March 05, 2018 13:20
The once-revered poet Ko Un has made his first public statement in a sexual harassment scandal that saw a library named after him closed and his poems expunged from textbooks in a matter of weeks.
Ko's U.K. publisher Bloodaxe sent a statement to the Guardian daily denying the accusations.
"I regret that my name has been brought up in the recent allegations," the statement read. "I have already expressed regret for any unintended pain that my behavior may have caused. However, I flatly deny charges of habitual misconduct that some individuals have brought up against me."
Ko (85) had been silent since the scandal broke in the Korean media in early February.
"In Korea I would simply wait for the passage of time to bring the truth to light and settle the controversy," he explained. "However, to my foreign friends, to whom facts and contexts are not readily available, I must affirm that I have done nothing which might bring shame on my wife or myself."
Ko is in hospital to have a tumor removed, and his wife, who has been nursing him, reportedly fainted last week.
The allegations were first made by poet Choi Young-mi, who described being groped by Ko without naming him in a poem titled "The Beast" published December last year. She alleged that Ko would habitually grope young women who hoped to be published in the literary journals whose editorial boards he sat on, and that his habits were widely known in literary circles.
Choi last week stood by her allegation. "What I wrote in 'The Beast' is true," she said. "If an official body investigates the allegation, I will testify in detail.
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