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Shameful scandal of former National Assembly speaker

Posted September. 15, 2014 05:08,   


Former National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae became the target of gossip for alleged sexual harassment of female caddie of a golf club. The victim claimed that the ex-assembly speaker sexually harassed her by touching her body several times. Park denied the accusation and said, “I thought she is like my own grand-daughter. So I made some expression for it but I’ve never crossed the line.” However, victim’s impression is the most important factor that determines whether an act is a sexual harassment or a molestation. After serving as chief prosecutor of the Busan District Prosecutors` Office, Park entered the politics and became six-term congressman. Park became the leader of Grand National Party and National Assembly Speaker. Even though Park has left the politics, but it is regrettable to see a politician who served as the representative of the ruling party and head of the law-making body is at the center of a shameful scandal.

Given claims by both Park and the female victim, it seems clear that there must be a certain act that consisted of sexual harassment and molestation. In the past, there was a time when it was excused for men of power and money to perform sexually molesting acts or say sexually harassing words to female employees in the service industry. But time has passed and Park’s alleged act is too much even based on the past criteria. The person who harassed may have thought it was just teasing, but the person who was harassed must have thought it crossed the bearable line and reported it to the police.

Matters that were regarded as common practice can be an issue now. Park was sentenced to eight months in jail with two years of probation for bribing fellow members of the Grand National Party in 2008 during the leadership election of the party while he was the National Assembly speaker. Park claimed it was a common practice to bribe party members with money envelopes. But the past practice is now regarded as a crime and Park received a criminal penalty.

Yoon Chang-jung, former spokesman of the presidential office, was released from the position on the spot when he sexually harassed a female intern of the Korean Embassy in the U.S. Yoon strongly denied sexual harassment in the beginning but ended up in greater shame as it turned out to be true. If someone makes a mistake, the best way to be put to less shame is to admit the mistake and apology to the victim. In Park’s case, the victim didn’t know Park was the ex-assembly speaker. Officials of high profile need to be careful in their behaviors. Not only during their terms, but also after retirement, it is easier for them to be spotted and criticized if they make a mistake or behave ill.