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Accuser of An fears rumors, physical attack

‘Web of lies’ shows how victims can suffer for their disclosures
Mar 13,2018
A woman refuted online rumors about her private life after her accusation of rape led to the resignation of South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung.

In a handwritten letter released by a local women’s group Monday, Kim Ji-eun, 33, said she was living every day in fear of physical retaliation for her accusation against the governor. She worked as his secretary for eight months.

Kim did not elaborate on the rumors, but wrote that she was “listening to every fake story about me” and could “fully predict” their sources. “More than anyone else, I know very well about those people,” wrote Kim, without further explanation.

“The web of lies will be straightened out throughout the probe,” she continued.

Kim’s letter came a week after she appeared on JTBC Newsroom, the 8 p.m. prime-time news show on local broadcaster JTBC, in which she claimed An, 52 and married with two kids, raped her four times and sexually harassed her more often during her eight months working in his office.

The most recent rape, she asserted, occurred last month.

After An stepped down as South Chungcheong governor the following day, rumors sprung up on Korea’s web portals about Kim and her family. On Ruliweb, an online community, Kim was depicted as An’s “obsessive fan,” who dated the politician and had consensual sex with him, but decided to accuse him of rape when she found out he was dating another woman and started to ignore her at work.

“I’m just a normal person,” Kim wrote in her letter Monday, adding it was An’s political views that convinced her to work with him. “I joined his camp with the faith that I could change this world, and I worked hard, but all that I can remember now are moments I want to cut out of my life.”

Kim said she was unable to live a normal life after the JTBC interview due to fear she might be physically attacked.

“I beg you not to produce or distribute any rumors about my family,” she said. “I beg you…I’m so sorry for them.”

Meanwhile, a committee within the Ministry of Justice working on the issue of internal sexual misconduct said Monday it advised Justice Minister Park Sang-ki to come up with ways that victims don’t experience “secondary damage” in case they blow the whistle.

The so-called secondary damage, the committee explained, ranged from ministry officials having their identities unintentionally leaked to victims getting the cold shoulder from colleagues after they go public with their stories.

At times, victims also get countersued for defamation or false accusation by suspects who “abuse the law,” the group pointed out. The ministry should not investigate the countersuits before the primary sexual misconduct accusations are fully probed, it said.

Starting next week, the committee vowed to survey all female workers within the ministry about their experiences with sexual assault.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]