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Yoon’s sexual assault allegations ruin Park’s U.S. visit

Yoon’s sexual assault allegations ruin Park’s U.S. visit

Posted May. 11, 2013 06:12,   


It is beyond belief to hear sexual assault allegedly committed by Presidential Spokesman Yoon Chang-jung, which happened during President Park Geun-hye’s visit to the U.S. One of the closest aides, who should have spoken on behalf of the president as part of her entourage, Yoon drank liquor with a 20-something female intern and caused uproar over alleged sexual assault. As the woman reported her case to police and the incident was reported by U.S. media, Korea has had its national dignity severely tarnished.

The Korean American community, who was in upbeat mood due to a U.S. visit by Korea’s first female president and a daughter of late former President Park Chung-hee, is suffering from severe mental agony as well. The victim is a daughter of a Korean American. A closest aide to the president committed crime to a 21-year-old intern, who is younger than his own daughter. After the woman reported the incident to police, Yoon left the U.S. as if running away even though the president visit was yet to end. He also made shameless excuse, saying “I don’t have an extendable arm, and how I could sexually assault a woman who was sitting on the other side.” If he was innocent, he should have stayed in the U.S. and confidently cope with the situation.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, President Park consolidated the nation’s alliance with the U.S. and joined President Barack Obama in sending Pyongyang a message that “There is no compensation for bad behaviors. North Korea should change first.” There was also a significant progress in Seoul’s efforts to revise the South Korea-U.S. nuclear treaty, with President Obama saying, “We don’t necessarily need to wait two more years.” Yoon’s behaviors have overshadowed diplomatic achievements from Park’s first summit diplomacy.

Yoon was completely oblivious of his responsibility as a civil servant who was on overseas business trip. Drinking at the hotel until late at night on Wednesday (U.S. time), he committed inappropriate behaviors to the female intern. On that day, a string of important events took place throughout the day, including a joint press conference by the South Korean and U.S. leaders, Park’s interview with the Washington Post, and a dinner commemorating the 60th anniversary of the South Korea-U.S. alliance. It was a day when he should have remained vigilant all day as Park’s spokesman. These events were to be followed by a breakfast meeting with Korean business leaders who accompanied the president for the visit, and her speech to the U.S. Congress the next day morning. If he were a sensitized spokesman, he should have checked preparations for the next day and conducted analysis of news reports by the South Korean media to debrief the president during the hours.

A spokesman could have light drinks with embassy staff or reporters depending on circumstances to ensure seamless communications. But we wonder what kind of communication he intended when he held a drinking party exclusively with an intern at the Korean embassy in Washington. It would never suffice even if he made apologies from the bottom of his heart, but he has sought to make an excuse that is hardly reasonable at best.

Accurate investigation into and corresponding legal actions should be taken for the sexual assault committed by Yoon. A report by the Washington police includes the victim’s remarks that a 56-year-old man grabbed a woman`s buttocks without her permission.” Compared with the 20-something intern, who was only briefly working with the embassy during the president’s U.S. visit, the presidential spokesman is in a position way superior to the former. Exploiting such relations, Yoon took the intern to a drinking party and called her in to his hotel room. He denied sexual assault allegations, but if the victim makes consistent testimonies, authorities will trust the victim’s statement than the suspect.

Yoon’s case is not an episode that can be construed and handled merely as personal misdemeanor. President Park needs to check anew whether she made an error by recruiting an unqualified person as her spokesman. Yoon moved back and forth to and from media, the presidential office and presidential election camp three times. Nonetheless, he used without hesitance extremely derogatory word, “bitches” for former members of the ruling Saenuri Party who declared their support of an opposition candidate. Rather than making dedication to media, he moved to this and that media organizations randomly as he pleased to ensure his own interest. During the presidential election, Yoon proactively supported Park through his op-ed pieces and on broadcast programs, but he caused eyebrows among civilized people by making remarks that were deemed excessively violent.

Yoon came under harsh criticism when he was nominated as presidential spokesman as well. This is evidenced by some members of the ruling Saenuri Party who opposed his nomination. Yoon, who failed to moderate his own remarks and writings, has failed to control his own behaviors after all, causing irreparable damage on the Park administration. His sexual harassment should not be regarded as solely resulting from misguided personnel appointment, but had Park accepted public opinion opposed to his nomination, she would not have faced such an embarrassing situation.

The presidential office should thoroughly and accurately investigate this incident, and hold Yoon sternly responsible. The presidential office announced Yoon’s dismissal only after he hurriedly returned to Korea. We wonder why the presidential office publicized Yoon’s return to Korea after “Missy USA,” the largest women’s community site in the U.S., disclosed Yoon’s sexual assault. The process of how Yoon returned to Korea is also questionable. The presidential office should proactively cooperate in the investigation by the U.S. law enforcement authority even for the sake of the nation’s dignity and integrity. In order to prevent any recurrence of such an incident, the president office also should not spare any effort to reinforce an anti-sexual harassment program and work disciplines for all the staff.