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An shows up to be grilled about reports of rape

He admits to claims by 1st victim but is silent on those by a 2nd
Mar 10,2018
Former South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung, center, voluntarily shows up at the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday afternoon. [YONHAP]
Former South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung voluntarily showed up at the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday afternoon for questioning, the first time he has ever appeared in public since admitting to raping his secretary, becoming the most prominent man in Korea to be mired in the Me Too movement.

An finished as runner-up to Moon Jae-in, who became president, in the Democratic Party’s primary last year, and was widely cited as a strong liberal candidate for the next election in 2022.

“I’m sorry,” said a grim-faced An as he arrived at the prosecutors’ office in a dark-navy down coat. “I was wrong. I want to apologize to the public and to the people of South Chungcheong who’ve been hurt by me.”

An continued, “I’m so sorry to my wife and kids…I will faithfully cooperate with the prosecution’s investigation.”

Prosecutors banned An from leaving the country Thursday.

An’s apology came four days after his secretary appeared on “JTBC Newsroom,” the 8 p.m. prime-time news show on JBTC, a local cable channel affiliated with the Korea JoongAng Daily, in which she accused him of raping her four times and sexually harassing her more often during her eight months working in his office. The most recent rape, she asserted, occurred last month.

In a text message distributed to reporters on Friday at 3:39 p.m. by An’s former chief secretary, who has been speaking on the ex-governor’s behalf, An said he has decided to appear at the prosecutors’ office before he was subpoenaed because “the path for me to apologize to people who’ve been hurt, South Chungcheong residents and the general public was to cooperate with the investigation as soon as possible and be reprimanded by law.”

An, 52 and married with two sons, planned to hold a press conference at the South Chungcheong provincial headquarters in Hongseong County, 70 miles south of Seoul, at 3 p.m. Thursday to apologize, but canceled it two hours in advance.

On Wednesday night, a second woman came forward with claims that she was raped by him three times from August 2016 to January 2017 while working at the Institute for Better Democracy, a political think tank established by An in Mapo District, western Seoul.

An acknowledged forcing his 33-year-old secretary to have sex with him, but made no mention of the second victim. The first victim filed a criminal lawsuit against An, while the second said she was preparing to do so as well.

The Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office launched a probe last Wednesday night and raided an apartment building in Mapo, in which the secretary claimed to have been raped on Feb. 25. CCTV footage showed An walking to the building the night before, after which the victim stepped inside the next day a little past midnight. The secretary walked back out a few hours later, said prosecutors.

The apartment complex raised speculation An might face an additional charge of bribery or graft because the building is owned by a small-to-medium-sized construction company whose CEO is An’s close friend from college. The friend admitted to allowing An to use a room for free since last August.

The company is known to have contracted several projects from Daewoo Engineering & Construction, the latter of which shares a dark history with An because he was jailed for a year on convictions he received illicit political funds from the construction heavyweight in 2002.

Daewoo denied having any connection to the apartment complex.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, HONG JI-YU AND JEONG JIN-HO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]