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Rights commission to question Me Too men

Apr 04,2018
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea said Tuesday it was investigating nine different sexual assault cases involving people in prosecutors’ offices and is preparing to call suspects in for questioning soon.

A sexual assault allegation by Seo Ji-hyeon, a prosecutor who came forward last January to say she was groped by a superior in 2010, is also being looked into, the commission said.

Seo’s appearance on “JTBC Newsroom,” the 8 p.m. prime-time news show on cable channel JTBC, was a watershed moment in Korea’s Me Too movement, leading to scores of other women from various sectors of society coming forward with their own harrowing accounts of sexual harassment.

In the meantime, the commission said it is halting its questioning of every woman working in the prosecution about their experience with sexual harassment because the Ministry of Justice has launched its own probe, according to a source from the human rights watchdog.

“We came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be right to have two different organizations simultaneously carrying out a complete survey,” the source said. “The commission will review the outcome of the Justice Ministry’s probe and fill in any loopholes if we find any.”

On another front, the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office said Monday it requested a local court to issue an arrest warrant for former South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung on allegations he raped his secretary four times and sexually harassed her more often, accusing him of destroying evidence.

The Seoul Western District Court struck down an earlier request on March 28, saying there was no risk of An fleeing or destroying evidence. The same court is scheduled to hold a hearing today at 2 p.m.

Prosecutors said a second woman who claimed she was raped by An three times while working at the Institute for Better Democracy, An’s political think tank, was not referenced in their latest request to detain An due to the complexity of the case, saying her allegations needed to be further investigated.

An, 52 and married with two sons, denied the rape allegations, saying his relationships were consensual.

BY HONG SANG-JI, LEE MIN-JUNG [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]