Foreign ministry stunned by scandals

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Foreign ministry stunned by scandals

Amid a snowballing “love scandal” involving three Korean diplomats and a Chinese woman, another Korean diplomat was found to have resigned last year over an affair with a Mongolian woman.

A series of revelations of misbehavior by its emissaries overseas is putting a strain on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, already hit by a criticism over its complacency at work and unfairness in personnel management.

Government sources told the JoongAng Ilbo that a former senior diplomat had an inappropriate relationship with his secretary while serving as the Korean ambassador to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The diplomat maintained the relationship until near the end of his term but it broke after the woman said she was pregnant and threatened to disclose the affair unless the diplomat gave her money, the sources said.

The diplomat tendered his resignation to the ministry in February of last year after the Korean government began investigating the affair, they said.

Critics said that case should have served as a wake-up call for the ministry to rein in the conduct of its diplomats overseas and prevent incidents such as the Shanghai sex scandal from occurring.

The Foreign Ministry is in charge of supervising the conduct of all Korean emissaries including those sent by other governmental agencies.

Last May, a junior diplomat at the Korean Embassy in Germany was caught drunk driving in Berlin, prompting the German Foreign Ministry to summon a high-ranking diplomat from the embassy to express sorrow.

In the same month, an official of the Korean Embassy in the U.S. was caught by the police using an illegal massage parlor.

“There have not been just a few cases in which the country was disgraced due to the misbehavior of foreign ministry officials or officials from other government agencies,” a diplomatic source told the JoongAng Ilbo. The source added that three or four Korean diplomats overseas every year are summoned in for breaching the code of conduct.

The ministry was also put on the spot for errors in the Korean translation of the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement detected last month.

“Vocational and ethical responsibility is required of Foreign Ministry officials now more than at any other time, due to such cases as the recent mistranslation (of the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement) and the problems of the [workplace behavior] of employees of diplomatic posts overseas,” said Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan in a letter sent to the ministry’s employees on Wednesday night.

The minister called on its employees to strictly observe the code of conduct and pledged to continue implementing reform measures on personnel management initiated by a nepotism scandal involving his predecessor Yu Myung-hwan last year.


By Moon Gwang-lip, Kwon Ho [joe@joongang.co.kr]


Related Korean Article[중앙일보]

‘울란바토르 스캔들’…몽골 대사도 옷 벗었다

상하이 주재 총영사관 영사들과 30대 유부녀 덩신밍(鄧新明·등신명·33)과의 ‘상하이 스캔들’ 이전에 몽골의 한국 고위 외교관의 ‘울란바토르 스캔들’이 있었던 것으로 확인됐다.

정부 소식통은 9일 “몽골 울란바토르 주재 한국 대사로 근무한 P 대사가 현지 여성과 부적절한 관계를 맺었다는 여성으로부터 협박까지 당한 사실이 있다”고 말했다. P 대사는 현지의 한 젊은 여성과 부적절한 관계를 가졌으며, 현지 근무를 끝내고 국내로 복귀하기 직전까지 내연관계를 유지한 것으로 알려졌다.

정부 소식통은 “몽골 여성이 P 대사에게 ‘아이를 가졌다’며 거액을 요구하고 ‘돈을 주지 않으면 관계를 폭로하겠다’고 협박했다”고 말했다.

P 대사는 정부가 자신의 부적절한 관계에 대한 조사를 하기 시작한 지난해 2월 사표를 냈다.


지난해 5월 초에는 주 독일 대사관의 A씨가 베를린 시내에서 음주상태로 승용차를 몰다가 중앙분리대를 들이받는 사고를 냈다. 당시 독일 언론은 한국 외교관이 아무런 처벌을 받지 않았다고 비판했고, 독일 외무부는 한국대사관 고위 관계자를 불러 유감을 표명하기도 했다. 또 같은 달에는 주미 대사관의 고위간부 B씨가 근무시간에 퇴폐 마사지 업소에서 현지 경찰에 적발돼 망신을 당했다. 외교 소식통은 “재외공관에서의 외교부 직원과 타 부처 출신 주재관의 크고 작은 비리가 끊이지 않으면서 국가 위신을 실추시킨 사례가 적지 않았다”며 “외교부 복무규정에 어긋나는 행동으로 국내로 조기 소환되는 주재관이 매년 3~4명 된다”고 말했다.  

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