Top South Korea politician resigns over rape allegations



A leading member of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s ruling Democratic Party resigned on Tuesday after one of his secretaries accused him of repeated sexual assault.

Ahn Hee-jung, the governor of South Chungcheong province, announced his resignation in a Facebook post and apologized to his victim .

“I apologise to everyone, especially to Miss Kim Ji-eun. I ask for forgiveness for my stupid action … it was all my fault,” he said.

The provincial government confirmed his resignation had come into effect.

Ahn came second to President Moon in the race to select the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate last year.

He is the most high-profile figure to be accused of sexual abuse following a number of allegations that came out under the #MeToo movement that is slowly gaining momentum in South Korea.

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Damning allegations

In an interview on South Korea’s JTBC television network, secretary Kim Ji-eun said 52-year-old Ahn had raped her multiple times since he hired her in June last year.

Kim said she decided to come forward after an incident on February 25, when Ahn, in light of the #MeToo movement, called her into his office to apologize for the hurt he had caused her before raping her again.

After the TV interview was aired, the ruling Democratic Party held an emergency meeting and expelled Ahn with immediate effect.

South Korean police chief Lee Chu-sung said a preliminary investigation into Ahn had been launched.

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#MeToo takes off in South Korea

The #MeToo movement has become prominent in South Korea in the past few weeks, with women accusing high-profile men working in the arts and religion of sexual harassment and rape.

The accused include Lee Yoon-taek, a former arts director at the National Theater of Korea and Cho Jae-hyun, an actor known for his roles in movies directed by Kim Ki-duk.

Kim, whose films have been screened at numerous international film festivals, also faced allegations of sexual and physical abuse on a film set and was fined for physically abusing an actress.

law/rt (AFP, AP)

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