By any measure, President Park Geun-hye’s state visit to the White House has been a success. She handled herself gracefully with President Barack Obama, and her speech at Congress was met with many rounds of rousing applause. So this one is a bit of a damper.
Blue House Spokesman Yoon Chang-joong was conspicuously missing in the events scheduled in Los Angeles on May 9. The media curiosity grew when the news broke that Yoon left for Korea on May 8, without joining President Park for the trip from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles.
Today, the other shoe dropped. Blue House official announced at Los Angeles that Yoon was relieved of his duty as of May 9, because he was “personally involved in an unfortunate incident, acting inappropriately as a high-ranking official and thereby damaging the dignity of the nation” during President Park’s visit to the U.S. What could that “unfortunate incident” be? Although there is nothing officially confirmed yet, the word in the Washington D.C. Korean American community is that Yoon sexually assaulted a 21-year-old intern for the Korean embassy who was his handler.
Obviously, any high-ranking official involved in this type of affair would damage the administration. But the fact that Yoon was involved makes things extra tough for the Blue House. Among all of Park’s appointments, Yoon’s appointment was the most hated one by the progressives. Before joining the Blue House staff, Yoon was a right-wing journalist notorious for his non-restraint. He called the conservative politicians who supported Moon Jae-in in the last elections “whores,” and called Ahn Cheol-soo a “dirty peddler.” He also referred to the voters who voted for Moon Jae-in as “traitor column” [반국가세력]. When he was appointed, even the conservatives scratched their heads about Park’s choice. Despite a massive pressure to call off the appointment, Park Geun-hye forged ahead and appointed Yoon as her spokesman. Merely 70 days later, he is gone today.
-UPDATE- Yonhap is now reporting that the intern called the police. Upon hearing that the police was coming, Yoon took off immediately to the airport without even packing up his hotel room. Upon returning to Korea, the Blue House’s office of the chief of staff interviewed Yoon, who admitted to sexual assault.
-UPDATE 2 (by Robert Koehler): If you’ve been wondering what Yoon’s “inappropriate act” was, wonder no more—quoting the victim, Yonhap is reporting that Yoon grabbed the intern’s ass at a DC area hotel.
So much for the One Grope Rule.
Anyway, DC police are investigating. The victim, too, is a US citizen.