South Korea's President Says He's A Feminist. Three Of His Allies Have Been Accused Of Sex Crimes
The woman who accused Seoul's mayor of sexual harassment says the city government told her he wasn't "that kind of person" when she made her complaint, according to two non-profit organizations working with her.
Park Won-soon, 64, died in an apparent suicide last week shortly after the sexual harassment claims were filed with police, meaning that the victim's claims won't be criminally investigated.
But the accusations of Park's former secretary have sparked a firestorm among women's rights groups in South Korea, and raised questions over how seriously sexual harassment is really taken by President Moon Jae-in, who campaigned on the promise of becoming a "feminist president."
Moon has not discussed the allegations publicly -- and in a major address to the country's legislature Thursday, he did not mention Park's death, the alleged victim, or even touch on broader gender issues.
Park is now the third top leader associated with Moon's Democratic Party to be accused of sexual harassment or assault in recent years. As the Seoul City Government launches an internal investigation into Park's alleged misconduct, there are calls for both the party -- and the government -- to do more to support victims of sex crimes.
'Four years of alleged harassment
Like Moon, Park described himself as a feminist.
As Seoul's mayor -- a role that made him the second-most powerful official in South Korea -- he implemented welfare policies aimed at helping women and was a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement. A former human rights lawyer, in the 1990s Park represented the victim in one of South Korea's first successful sexual harassment convictions. In the 1980s, he was part of the team of lawyers who represented one of the first women to bring charges of sexual assault against authorities.
So for many in Seoul, last week's allegations came as a shock.
In a press conference Monday, the alleged victim's lawyer, Kim Jae-ryon, claimed Park had sent pictures of himself in his underwear to his secretary, as well as obscene, late-night messages over the encrypted app Telegram.
The four years of alleged harassment began when the woman was hired as Park's secretary and continued after she had moved to another department, said Kim.
CNN has reached out to the accuser through her lawyer. The lawyer did not wish to comment beyond what she said at the press conference. Park did not comment on the allegations before his death.