News / Asia

Park's US Trip Tainted by Spokesman's Resignation

South Korean President Park Geun-hye addresses the U.S. The Chamber of Commerce in Washington, May 8, 2013.South Korean President Park Geun-hye addresses the U.S. The Chamber of Commerce in Washington, May 8, 2013.
x
South Korean President Park Geun-hye addresses the U.S. The Chamber of Commerce in Washington, May 8, 2013.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye addresses the U.S. The Chamber of Commerce in Washington, May 8, 2013.
— Less than three months in office, and during her first official visit to the United States, South Korea's president has suffered an embarrassing public misstep for her administration. On Thursday she fired her spokesman amid a police investigation in Washington that he acted inappropriately with an intern from the South Korean Embassy.

South Korea's main opposition party is calling for President Park Geun-hye to personally apologize.

Democratic Party spokesperson Bae Jae-jung says the scandal that quickly enveloped the president's spokesman, Yoon Chang-jung, was a foreseeable tragedy that has brought international shame to the country.

Bae says the party wants the presidential office (Blue House) to fully investigate and that President Park should apologize to the people of South Korea for hiring Yoon in the first place.

Domestic media in South Korea say Yoon hurriedly left Washington and returned to Seoul, not joining the President on her next stop in Los Angeles.

District of Columbia police have confirmed to reporters an investigation was launched after a young woman filed a complaint.

According to reports broadcast Friday on cable news channels in Seoul, the complaint states that Yoon, at a Washington hotel, allegedly grabbed the buttocks of a 21-year-old embassy intern, a U.S. citizen, who had been assigned to assist him during the presidential visit.

A group of opposition female lawmakers in Seoul released a statement contending police in Washington asked Yoon to stay in his hotel while they contacted the South Korean embassy, but that he went to the airport and left the country.

The governing Saenuri Party's spokeswoman, Min Hyun-joo, who is a lawmaker, is praising the administration for being quickly transparent about the incident.

Min, on behalf of the party, expresses “strong regret.” She says if the sexual abuse allegations are true this is inexcusable and that Yoon should accept responsibility for his behavior.

Yoon, before joining Ms. Park's presidential transition team after her election victory last year, was a veteran journalist known for his staunch conservative views and biting comments attacking opponents on the left.

Briefing reporters traveling with President Park in Los Angeles, an administration official said Yoon was dismissed for “inappropriate conduct as a high-ranking official, damaging the dignity of the country by being involved in a disgraceful event.”

It is the latest setback for Park's administration.

Amid political wrangling, six of her Cabinet nominees had to quit. They had faced varying accusations by opposition lawmakers and the media, including tax evasion, real estate speculation, bribery, links to weapons brokers, and sex being exchanged for favors.

Park is the daughter of a former president. Her father, Park Chung-hee, as an army general, led a 1961 coup and ruled until 1979 when he was assassinated by his intelligence chief.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid