Conductor Chung Myung-whun Questioned in Libel Case

  • By Kim Kyung-eun

    July 15, 2016 10:57

    Chung Myung-whun enters the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Thursday. /Yonhap

    The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra's former music director Chung Myung-whun was questioned by prosecutors Thursday over a criminal libel complaint by a former orchestra president.

    Chung is embroiled in a legal battle with Park Hyun-jung, the ex-president of the orchestra, who resigned in March over allegations of sexually and verbally harassing some members of the orchestra in 2014.

    Park filed a complaint against Chung, who sided with the musicians, of libeling her. Prosecutors believe the conductor's wife instructed his staff to spread the rumors, which Chung then repeated in letters to the orchestra and press interviews.

    Heading into the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, Chung told reporters, "I believed my colleagues who I worked with for 10 years. There needs to be a thorough investigation, and that is why I came here today."

    In late 2014, 10 members of the orchestra filed a complaint against Park. But in March this year, police said the musicians and Chung's wife had deliberately slandered Park to get her out of the way.

    Chung's wife denies the allegations but has refused to return to Korea from abroad to answer questions.

    He is to be quizzed again by police on Friday over allegations that he used orchestra funds to pay for his family's airfares. Civic groups filed a separate complaint against Chung earlier this year accusing him of embezzlement and breach of trust.

    An audit by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which runs the orchestra, revealed that Chung's children and other family members were given business-class tickets for personal use. He abruptly quit late last year when the board stalled over renewal of his contract and canceled his remaining schedule.

    But supporters point out that he raised the orchestra's status immeasurably in his decade at the helm.

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