What did Yoo do?The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office is being scrutinized for its potential involvement in the sexual harassment allegations against late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon. Kim Jae-ryon, a legal representative of the victim who has accused Park of harassing her for years as his secretary, claimed she called up Yoo Hyun-jung — head of the division in charge of crimes against women and children at the district prosecutors’ office covering the capital — to arrange a meeting to discuss the charge her client raised against the Seoul mayor.
Prosecutor Yoo agreed to a meeting the following day, but canceled it just hours before. The Seoul Prosecutors’ Office confirmed the meeting was scheduled and put off. It is not normal for a senior prosecutor dealing with sexual crimes to respond so lukewarmly to a case regarding the top city administrator.
The district prosecutors’ office has not reported the case to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and made no mention about it until lawyer Kim disclosed the fact in a press conference. Under the internal code, the district office has a duty to report to the higher Supreme Prosecutors’ Office for “a case of social importance.” The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office must find out why it was kept in the dark.
Later on July 8, Lim Soon-young, a special aide to Mayor Park on gender equality, alerted the mayor that he was being charged for a sexual crime — shortly after the victim filed a complaint with the police. That’s why the police came under suspicion of tipping Park off before he went missing later and was found dead the following day.
However, given the revelation from the lawyer, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office could have been the leak. The police learned of the affair 30 minutes before Lim reported it to her boss Park, but the prosecution knew of it the previous day. That suggests the possibility of the prosecution having leaked the information earlier than the police.
The criminal section of the district office is currently investigating the leak, or violation of the confidentiality code on state affairs. Therefore, Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl must immediately refer the case to another district office or appoint a special prosecutor on the affair as it does not make sense for the same office to investigate a case when it could be the violator of the code. The Prosecution Act enables its chief to assign a special investigator to a case which requires neutrality and independence.
Why Yoo — the senior prosecutor in the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office — postponed the meeting with the victim’s lawyer is also dubious. She could have been dissuaded by her superiors, including the district office’s head Lee Sung-yoon. Lee could have ordered stalling the criminal process. Many things should be answered. Lee must disclose when and how he learned of the affair. Prosecutor General Yoon must command an investigation into the affair shortly.