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Video shows council member beating guide

Jan 10,2019
이미지뷰
A surveillance camera on a tour bus shows Park Jong-chul, the vice chairman of Yecheon County’s local council, repeatedly punching a tour guide in Toronto on Dec. 23 last year. The clip was released by MBC on Tuesday. [YONHAP]
A video clip released by MBC on Tuesday shows Park Jong-chul, the vice chairman of the local council of Yecheon County, North Gyeongsang, assaulting a tour guide in while on a trip to Toronto on Dec. 23 last year.

According to MBC, the scene of Park repeatedly punching the guide was caught on a surveillance camera installed in the bus. Park and nine other Yecheon council members traveled to the United States and Canada from Dec. 20 to 29 last year on a council-funded trip.

This contradicts Park’s statement that he never assaulted the guide, but only scratched his face with his fingernails. Park apologized for the incident on Jan. 4.

Park is currently alleged to have gone into hiding, as he has not responded to any calls from the press, the police and the Yecheon council’s secretariat.

His house in Yecheon seems to be unoccupied as well. It has also been reported that nine members of the council, including Park, have not shown up to the council office as of Wednesday.

One secretariat official said, “Currently, the council is not in session, so almost all of the council members aren’t coming to the council office. Park hasn’t been seen since last Friday’s press conference, and he isn’t answering any of his phone calls.”

Other members of the council who went on the trip were also accused of inappropriate behavior, such as demanding that a guide take them to a hostess bar.

Residents have organized a committee demanding the resignation of all the members of the council and have even put up banners in front of Yecheon County’s Council, pressing the members to step down. The committee is planning to hold a rally demanding their resignation this Friday at Yecheon Central Market.

“It is now embarrassing to admit that I’m from Yecheon,” said one resident surnamed Ji. “People here are all demanding a re-election for council members - they are a disgrace to our county and they have degraded our reputation.”

Local chapters of the Democratic Party in the counties of Yeongju, Mungyeong and Yecheon said, “Yecheon County’s Council should convene a disciplinary committee and disentitle or expel all members concerned with this incident.”

The Daegu-Gyeongbuk Women’s Association stated that “stringent measures and solutions need to be given to the members of the council for committing actions that goes against the rights of women, such as requesting to go to a hostess bar.”

The public’s anger about the trip was also clear on the Blue House Petition Board.

Over 80 petitions demanding the punishment of the council members as well as a ban on their overseas business trips have been uploaded as of Wednesday.

After receiving multiple complaints from several conservative groups, the Yecheon Police announced that they will “summon Park for questioning and start the investigation as soon as possible.”

They also added that they have sent a written inquiry via email to the tour guide asking in detail about what happened in the incident, and will investigate the reason why the trip in December was twice as expensive as the council’s last overseas trip.

BY LEE HAE-SUN [lee.haesun@joongang.co.kr]