Hurting the victimA victim of sexual misconduct by the late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon held a press conference Wednesday on the condition that the event would not be taped. Previously, she has expressed her position on the scandal through her lawyers. In the press conference, the mayor’s former secretary said she called it due to her deepening frustration with her case, and how it was almost invisible in the campaign for the mayoral by-election in Seoul.
She complained that the suicide by the Park, a civil rights activist before he became mayor, turned her into an antagonist instead of a victim. The multitude of people paying condolences over his death made her feel hopeless, she said. She could not avoid an avalanche of secondary damage from continuous criticisms and distortions after Park’s suicide.
She lamented that many people still do not accept the mayor’s obvious misconduct after his death, a fact that is inexorably tormenting her. Park’s loyalists tried to take advantage of his reputation to continue harassing her in a brutal manner after confining themselves to the prison of self-justice, she said.
With less than three weeks before the Seoul mayoral by-election on April 7, members of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) questioned her motivations for holding such a press conference. However, they should look back and reflect on their own roles in this sorry drama. They were methodically involved in transforming a victim into an assaulter and vice versa.
Even though the by-election was forced by the mayor’s suicide — the result of the mayor’s misbehavior — Rep. Woo Sang-ho, a DP lawmaker and former aspirant to be the party’s nominee, praised the mayor for being a “role model and comrade.” Park Young-sun, the DP’s mayoral candidate, called the victim an “alleged victim” and appointed three of her DP colleagues as key aides in her campaign. She dismissed the victim’s demand for the resignation of one of the three campaign aides for inflicting secondary damage on her.
DP supporters hurled indescribable insults at the victim for forcing the mayor to take his own life. Pro-government YouTubers and media outlets are still propagating ludicrous claims that the case was exaggerated. They must understand that such messages also constitute secondary damage. Inflicting secondary damage for partisan interests must be stopped.
The DP apologized to the victim in January, after the National Human Rights Commission declared the case one of sexual harassment. The DP head vowed to prevent the victim from being hurt more. That was an empty promise. Where is the party that claims to champion the rights of women?