2013 scandal over orgies reopened by commission

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2013 scandal over orgies reopened by commission

A commission reopened an investigation into a major sex scandal that threatened to ensnare some bigwigs from politics, business and the law in 2013, summoning a former vice justice minister identified in video footage from the case for questioning on Friday.

Former Deputy Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui did not show up for questioning at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office as of press time, despite being identified as the man having sex in the video by Commissioner General Min Gap-ryong of the National Police Agency a day earlier.


Kim Hak-eui

The accusation that he attended a sex party at a villa in Wonju, Gangwon, belonging to a contractor, Yoon Jung-cheon, forced Kim to resign only six days after he was appointed the No. 2 official in the Justice Ministry in March 2013.

After a four-month probe into the case, police concluded Yoon had hosted a number of such events with high profile figures in attendance in order to gain favors, based on testimonies from some of the women hired to have sex with the guests. Kim, police said, was clearly seen having sex with one of the women in three video files they obtained while investigating Yoon.

Despite such evidence, the prosecution ended the investigation in November 2013 and filed no charges against Kim and Yoon, saying the woman in the videos could not be identified.

Rumors abounded at the time that the prosecution deliberately covered up the case in order to protect one of its own in Kim, allegedly with the support of top figures in the Park Geun-hye administration, like then-Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

Last year, MBC broadcasted a censored version of some of the footage along with interviews with the women and new pictures from a party at the time that depicted an orgy taking place among dozens of guests. The program alleged there was a systematic effort by several top prosecutors to cover up the scandal. Many of the prosecutors involved in this case went on to other cases that ended in ways favorable to the Park government.


Photographers wait for Kim Hak-eui, a former deputy justice minister who was implicated in a major sex scandal in 2013, at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday. Kim did not show up as of press time. [NEWS1]

The scandal was compared to Britain’s Profumo scandal in the ’60s and the Justice Ministry’s special commission on past misconduct by the prosecution, launched after the Moon Jae-in administration came to power in 2017, reopened the case.

In a parliamentary hearing about the case on Thursday, Commissioner General Min said that the police had concluded that the figure in the videos was most likely Kim.

“We could tell with just the naked eye that the [person in the] footage was [former Vice Justice Minister Kim],” Min said, adding the prosecution rejected this determination.

“We raised many doubts [about the prosecution’s decision to drop the charges] and the victim [the woman in the videos] also filed further legal processes, but the [questions] were never truly clarified,” he said.

Further bolstering allegations of a cover up is the fact that a second investigation into the case, launched in July 2014, also resulted in no charges. This second probe came about after a woman surnamed Lee came forward to reveal she was Kim’s sexual partner in the videos.

She claimed she was repeatedly raped by Yoon and Kim during those sessions after having been forcibly drugged by Yoon.

On Thursday, Lee appeared on a KBS news show for the first time to tell her story. Around 30 other women were forced to have sex with high-profile figures, ranging from executives from major companies to senior government officials, she said.

It is unclear, however, whether more investigation by the commission can lead to criminal prosecutions, since the body has no authority to forcibly subpoena Kim and its mandate is set to expire at the end of this month.

The leftist Justice Party on Friday called on Hwang - now the chairman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party - to explain his role in the case as Kim’s direct superior at the time.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]
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