Groping Complaint on S. Korean Spokesman Pursued in D.C.

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a complaint alleging misdemeanor sexual abuse by South Korean presidential spokesman Yoon Chang Jung during an official visit to the U.S. capital this week.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye decided to replace Yoon on May 9 because of “disgraceful” conduct during Park’s trip to Washington, chief presidential press secretary Lee Nam Ki said, according to a statement on the president’s website.

Yoon is alleged to have inappropriately touched a woman who is an intern at the South Korean embassy in Washington, according to Yonhap News Agency, which said the incident occurred at a hotel. A police report filed by the woman, described as being in her early 20s, said the suspect “grabbed her buttocks without her permission,” according to Yonhap.

Washington police are aware of the misdemeanor sexual abuse allegation and are investigating the complaint, Tisha Gant, a spokeswoman, said yesterday in a phone interview. She declined to provide details about the suspect or whether the police had spoken with the woman.

Yoon denied the accusation, while expressing a “deep apology” to the president and the nation for causing “a public stir,” speaking at a media briefing in Seoul today broadcast by YTN TV.

‘No Intention’

“I swear I had no intention of sexually harassing her, and I didn’t molest her,” Yoon said during the briefing.

The press office at South Korea’s Washington embassy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Park met with President Barack Obama at the White House on May 7 and gave a speech the following day to a joint session of Congress.

The case has created a backlash for Park in Seoul where the opposition Democratic Party has called for a thorough investigation and an apology from the president for her spokesman’s behavior, according to Yonhap.

Yoon hurt the country’s dignity with an inappropriate action, the details of which the South Korean embassy is trying to confirm, according to Lee, Park’s press secretary.

Lee apologized for the alleged incident in a separate statement on the presidential website and said Park’s office will cooperate with U.S. authorities in the investigation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gopal Ratnam in Washington at gratnam1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

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