|Jin Young-ok, right, acting chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, and Lee Yong-sik, the umbrella labor union’s secretary-general, talk yesterday at union headquarters in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul, just before they began the central executive meeting where they discussed the sexual assault scandal. [YONHAP]|
Four leaders of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions resigned yesterday in the wake of a growing sexual assault scandal involving the organization.
Later in the day, the KCTU made a public apology, though it was unclear whether the entire KCTU leadership would step down en masse. The scandal involves a high-ranking KCTU official who allegedly attempted to rape a female union member last December.
“We apologize for causing concern and disappointing the nation with a sexual violence case and we’ll do all we can to prevent a recurrence of such an incident,” the KCTU said in the apology posted on its Web site.
“The KCTU will develop measures to compensate the victim for her suffering while making sure there will be no additional harm to her,” it added. According to the KCTU, the alleged offender has been dismissed from membership - the heaviest disciplinary action that can be taken by the organization.
Meanwhile, the victim, identified only by the alias “A,” filed a complaint against the alleged offender, identified only as “B,” with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. She requested that prosecutors investigate KCTU officials for what she says was an attempt to cover up the case.
The incident goes back to last December when A provided shelter to KCTU Chairman Lee Seok-haeng, a fugitive at the time. He had been charged with spearheading illegal candlelight protests against U.S. beef imports last summer.
Lee was arrested on Dec. 5 while staying at A’s house and A went under police investigation for aiding a fugitive.
KCTU officials then contacted A to advise her how to handle the police investigation. It was during that process that B, a high-ranking KCTU official, trespassed on A’s home and attempted to rape her, A contends.
“Some high-ranking KCTU officials have continuously put pressure on A even after the incident, saying that the case should not be made public because it would seriously harm the organization’s reputation. In this way, my client has been re-victimized,” said A’s attorney, Kim Jong-woong, at a Thursday press conference.
“The incident and the organization’s handling of it clearly shows that the KCTU leadership has no moral basis to carry out its goals, such as leading a democratic labor movement,” he added.
In the wake of the press conference, KCTU leaders held a marathon meeting of its executive committee from Thursday afternoon to midnight to discuss measures to handle the scandal, which is damaging the organization’s morale.
They failed to reach an agreement on possible measures, including a general resignation of the leadership. The KCTU executive committee will meet again on Monday.
By Park Sun-young Staff Reporter/ Kim Ki-chan JoongAng Ilbo [firstname.lastname@example.org]