Civic group rallies support for former Seoul Mayor Park
"In order to uncover the truth, we are recruiting a team of citizens to accuse the female secretary of murder resulting from gross negligence," Shin Seung-mok, head of the civic group, wrote on the group's Facebook account on Saturday. "Those who drove Mayor Park Won-soon to death must be punished by law."
Park was found dead on July 10 last year, a day after he went missing. Police concluded it was suicide.
His former secretary had filed a complaint claiming he sexually harassed her for years on July 8, but any further investigation into Park's behavior was closed due to the death of the suspect.
The prosecution did investigate whether and how information regarding the former secretary’s complaint was leaked to Park before his death, concluding that Park was informed by an adviser in the afternoon of July 8 of the former secretary’s intention to file the sexual harassment complaint.
Shortly before he went missing on July 9, Park texted his adviser, “I don’t think I can get through this,” according to the prosecution.
Police, in concluding their investigation on Dec. 29, 2020, declined to disclose their findings regarding whether Park’s suicide was tied to the sexual harassment allegations.
The civic group, whose name in Korean roughly translates to "Citizens’ Coalition on Scourging Deep-rooted Evil in Society," has been vocally supportive of Park and President Moon Jae-in, both members of ruling Democratic Party.
“The claims by the former secretary that allege that she was sexually harassed for four years have no grounds, and we have evidence to claim that the [victim and her lawyer] have planned this as a political scheme against the late mayor,” Shin wrote.
“Our evidence includes videos [of both the former secretary and Park] that look like the secretary may be the one actually sexually harassing Mayor Park [...] and the fact that she had sent in three handwritten letters to Park which include phrases such as ‘I love you.’”
The coalition is gathering users online to join the group to file a complaint against the victim on the charge of murder, claiming that they will “get to the bottom of the case and clear the name of the late mayor.”
Experts have called the group’s actions groundless.
“It’s very inappropriate, and their claims have no legal grounds,” said Jang Yoon-mi, a lawyer at Korea Women Lawyers Association. “They’re claiming that the victim had filed a complaint against Park whilst knowing that it will lead to his death — which is unlikely. This is merely an attack on the victim with the intention to hurt her even more.”
The former secretary and her family members released their statements last week, which include pleas by the family members to the public to stop harassing them. The victim’s mother stated that the victim speaks of killing herself several times a day because of claims that call her a liar.
“The group seems to have no idea what kinds of pains they’re inflicting on the victim,” Shin Ji-ye, a head of an association of women in politics, told the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday. “They just want to be in the spotlight before the final report is put out by the National Human Rights Commission.”
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea held a meeting behind closed doors on Monday to finalize its findings on the case of sexual harassment.
The victim’s lawyer had requested the commission in August 2020 to investigate allegations that Park sexually harassed her for years and whether officials at the city government turned a blind eye despite her calls for help.
BY ESTHER CHUNG, HAM MIN-JUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]