Lewd remarks solon to be punishedProsecutors investigating alleged verbal sexual harassment of college students by Rep. Kang Yong-seok said yesterday that after gathering statements from witnesses they concluded that Kang did make the remarks.
And the National Assembly meets today to discuss how to punish Kang.
The Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office said it questioned members of the Yonsei University debate team, who were invited by Kang to a dinner on July 16 after a debate hosted earlier by the National Assembly.
Half of the students were female. The JoongAng Ilbo reported that Kang made raunchy remarks at the dinner.
“The remarks that were reported by Kang were really made,” the students were quoted as telling prosecutors. “The JoongAng Ilbo report is true.”
The prosecution investigation began after the Korean Announcers Association filed a defamation suit against Kang.
The 41-year-old, first-term lawmaker from the ruling Grand National Party allegedly told a female student who aspired to be a broadcaster that she should be “ready to go all the way,” implying she would need to use sex to get into the profession.
The suit was filed with the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office, but was transferred to the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office after Kang sued the JoongAng Ilbo reporter for defamation in the Western District. Kang has denied that he made raunchy remarks.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Special Committee on Ethics said yesterday that it will hold a meeting today to present a plan to punish Kang. If the plan is presented, it will be reviewed by a subdisciplinary committee and an advisory committee comprised of outsiders.
Observers expect the advisory committee to wield heavy influence. Jeong Kab-yoon, a GNP lawmaker heading the National Assembly Special Committee on Ethics, said the level of punishment will be decided in a manner that complies with common sense.
In the recent past, several lawmakers, including ones from the GNP, were criticized for sexually inappropriate remarks.
Under the National Assembly management act, a lawmaker is subject to four levels of punishment depending on the seriousness of the wrongdoing.
The lightest is a warning to the lawmaker in an open meeting, followed by a request that the lawmaker apologize for his behavior. In more serious cases, the lawmaker can be suspended from the assembly for 30 days or expelled altogether.
Depriving Kang of his seat appears an unlikely option. Two-thirds of 299 lawmakers have to approve an expulsion. So far, there has been only one such case in Korean parliamentary history.
Former president Kim Young-sam was expelled from the National Assembly on Oct. 4, 1979, for opposing the military regime of Park Chung Hee.
By Jeong Seon-eon, Jung Hyo-sik [firstname.lastname@example.org]