August 04, 2020 11:09
The Foreign Ministry recently asked the Philippines to extradite its former ambassador to face charges of sexual harassment here. The move comes even as the ministry is dragging its heels over one of its own diplomats, who is accused of sexual harassment in New Zealand.
By a strange twist of fate, the Korean diplomat accused of sexually assaulting a local staffer at the embassy in Wellington is now a consul general in the Philippines.
Sources said Monday that the ministry has asked the Philippines several times to extradite former ambassador Noe Wong to face arrest for groping a Korean woman in her early 30s here last December.
When the allegations surfaced early this year, Wong returned to the Philippines, quit his post and went into hiding. He is not a career diplomat but a politician who got the post as a reward for services.
Police here turned to Interpol in May, which issued a red notice for Wong. The ministry expressed "concern" and "regret" to the Philippines and asked for cooperation in sending Wong to Korea.
"The Philippines didn't show much enthusiasm in responding to the request and was once again reminded of the incident through diplomatic channels," a diplomatic source said.
But the ministry has been doing the same to New Zealand in shielding the Korean diplomat, identified as Kim, who is accused of repeatedly groping a male staffer at the Korean Embassy in Wellington in 2017.
Kim was only docked a month's pay and packed off to a new appointment. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently brought the case up with President Moon Jae-in.
A senior ministry official said that Kim has been recalled to Seoul after the issue escalated into a major diplomatic sticking point with New Zealand. "The best way of handling the problem raised by New Zealand is through formal judicial proceedings," the official said. "We're willing to cooperate according to judicial and extradition procedures if New Zealand makes an official request."
The Foreign Ministry summoned New Zealand Ambassador Philip Turner to explain its position.
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