Ex-vice minister can’t leave country

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Ex-vice minister can’t leave country

Kim Hak-eui, the 56-year-old former vice minister of justice who was implicated in an on-again, off-again sex-for-influence case, was banned from leaving the country.

The National Police Agency, which is investigating the case, confirmed the travel ban yesterday, saying it was filed over the weekend, and the Justice Ministry immediately approved it.

Kim has been accused of being one of several high-ranking government officials who attended a sex party at a villa in Wonju, Gangwon, owned by a 51-year-old contractor surnamed Yoon. Police believe Yoon provided the raunchy entertainment to get favorable treatment in law suits related to his business.

But they have been unable to pin down who attended the raunchy party, despite having a two-minute video showing a man singing a song while having sex with a woman in a black dress. Kim denied he was the man, but resigned from his post in the ministry.

An earlier attempt to ban him and four other people from leaving the country was turned down by the Justice Ministry because of lack of evidence. The police are now trying to pin down bribes that Yoon gave government officials to win construction contracts.

“There is some progress in the investigation of Yoon’s irregularities in winning some construction projects,” a spokesman of the National Police Agency told reporters yesterday. “In order to prove such allegations, we requested the travel ban for those implicated in the case.”

Sources in the police said they have not secured actual evidence of Kim granting Yoon favors in lawsuits.

“There has been some progress in the investigation,” a spokesman from the prosecution said. “The prosecution didn’t want people to think they were obstructing the police’s investigation.”

“We don’t consider Kim a suspect yet,” the police said. “But he is one of the most important informants of the case. We requested the travel ban because it would be hard to proceed with the investigation if he leaves the country.”

The police have allegedly identified some women who participated in the sex party. “They have investigated about 10 women who were in the villa in Wonju, and secured testimony,” a spokesman of the police said.

The police also confirmed that they have arrested a man who has the original copy of two-minute sex video file.

By Chung Kang-hyun, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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