April 24, 2020 10:28
Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don stepped down on Thursday after admitting sexual harassment of a civil servant.
Oh, who is affiliated with the Minjoo Party, is the second official from the ruling camp to step down over sexual misconduct after former South Chungcheong Province governor An Hee-jung resigned in 2018.
The latest scandal has left the mayorship of Korea's second largest city up for grabs and reignited controversy over the ethical standards of ruling party bigwigs.
Oh in a press conference on Thursday morning admitted there was "inappropriate physical contact" with a female employee. "I take responsibility and am stepping down," he added.
Oh reportedly summoned the woman to his office on April 7 and touched her inappropriately during their five-minute meeting. The victim reported the abuse to a sexual violence hotline in the southern port city. She apparently obtained a letter from Oh pledging to step down by the end of this month and had the document notarized.
The Minjoo Party issued an apology three hours after Oh resigned. Minjoo Secretary-General Yoon Ho-joong said, "We bow our heads in apology to the public" and added that a party ethics committee meeting on Friday morning will expel Oh.
Deputy mayor Byun Seong-wan will serve as acting mayor until a by-election in April next year. The Minjoo Party's charter stipulates that it will not field a candidate in a district or region where one of its elected officials loses his or her position due to a grave transgression.
Opposition lawmakers voiced suspicion that the Minjoo Party told Oh to wait until after the general election earlier this month to announce his resignation. United Future Party spokesman Kim Sung-won said, "We need to identify which officials are behind the decision for Oh to step down after the general elections."
But the Minjoo Party claims it had no idea of Oh's misconduct until his resignation.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com