[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

S Korea president sorry for 'unsavoury' act

Park Geun-hye apologises after spokesman sacked over claims he sexually harassed intern during president's visit to US.

Last Modified: 13 May 2013 10:38
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Yoon denies the allegations, saying he patted the intern's waist in a sign of encouragement [Reuters]

Park Geun-hye, South Korea's president, has personally apologised for an "unsavoury" incident during her summit visit to the US that led to the dismissal of her chief spokesman.

Yoon Chang-jung was sacked over allegations that he had sexually harassed a female intern, a Korean-American, while accompanying Park on her May 5 to 9 trip.

"I feel apologetic that an unsavoury incident ... occurred near the end of my visit to the US and greatly disappointed the people," Park told a meeting of senior aides on Monday.

"I sincerely apologise for the shock the female student and her parents must have received and the scars left on the hearts of [overseas] compatriots," she said, according to a report of the meeting posted on the presidential Blue House website.

The scandal has dominated press headlines in South Korea for several days, with reports pointing to major discrepancies in the various versions put forward and questioning Seoul's initial reaction.

'Buttocks grabbed'

Park, South Korea's first woman leader, said that all the facts would be investigated so that no "single speck" of suspicion remained.

Washington police have opened an investigation into a complaint filed by the intern over a "misdemeanour sexual abuse" by an unnamed 56-year-old male suspect.

A police report obtained by South Korean news agency Yonhap and the Washington Post said the intern complained the suspect "grabbed her buttocks without her permission".

Yoon, who flew back to South Korea before the end of Park's visit, denied the allegation on Saturday, saying he had merely "patted her waist" in a sign of encouragement.

"I implore her to forgive me if I had hurt her due to differences in culture. I offer my apology to her," he told reporters.

Park said all her officials would cooperate actively with the police investigation.

The affair cast a cloud over the president's US tour - her first overseas trip since taking office in February.

Park held a summit with President Barack Obama, at which the two leaders reaffirmed their united front of offering no concessions in the face of provocations from North Korea.

She also addressed a joint session of the US Congress, stressing that Pyongyang had to give up its nuclear weapons programme.

North Korea was quick to pick up on the Yoon scandal, with the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun saying in a commentary on Sunday that Park's US trip would be remembered for a "shameful" act of indecency.

400

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.