Seoul City Staff 'Ignored Complaints of Mayor's Accuser'

  • By Hwang Ji-yoon

    July 23, 2020 13:09

    The ex-secretary of late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said Wednesday that her complaints of sexual harassment by Park and repeated requests for a transfer fell on deaf ears over four years.

    The accuser's statement was read to reporters by her lawyer Kim Jae-ryon in a follow-up press conference on Wednesday after she first came forward a week ago.

    The woman "mentioned the sexual harassment to some 20 city officials including human resource staff, and showed inappropriate text messages and explicit photos by the mayor to a coworker," the lawyer said.

    But the woman said most of them told her she was "naïve" or made excuses for Park, saying he was "merely showing his affection." HR staff simply told her to seek the mayor's approval for a transfer. When she was finally transferred to another metropolitan agency, one city official allegedly told her, "Come back and I'll make sure your remaining 30 years as a public servant will go smoothly."

    Kim added that the woman "informed 17 city officials before being transferred and three others afterwards."

    Activists and a lawyer (2nd from left) for Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon's former sercretary give a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday. /Yonhap

    The mayor's aides were apparently referred to as the "folks on the sixth floor" by other City Hall workers. There were about 30 close aides based on that floor, most of them former social activists who worked with Park during his days as a human and women's rights lawyer.

    Only a small handful of them were bona fide civil servants, but they were handpicked by Park and apparently wielded tremendous power within City Hall and formed a tight-knit group.

    Lee Mi-kyoung, the director of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center who was also present at the press conference, said the victim rejects the city government’s proposal to investigate her accusations and wants the National Human Rights Commission to handle the case instead.

    The city government in a statement afterwards said it is giving up on the plan for an in-house investigation and pledged to cooperate with the NHRC.

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