Skip to main content

South Korean president fires spokesman over 'unsavory incident' in U.S.

By Jethro Mullen and Soo Bin Park, CNN
May 13, 2013 -- Updated 0033 GMT (0833 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The president's office says a spokesman "damaged the dignity of the country"
  • It took place during President Park Geun-hye's official visit to the United States
  • Police in Washington say they are investigating a report of sexual abuse

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- President Park Geun-hye of South Korea has dismissed her press spokesman after concluding that he was involved in an "unsavory incident" during a state visit to the United States, her office said.

Police in Washington said they were investigating a report of sexual abuse.

The spokesman, Yoon Chang-jung, "showed inappropriate conduct as a high-ranking official and damaged the dignity of the country by being personally involved in an unsavory incident," the chief presidential press secretary, Lee Nam-ki, said in a statement Thursday from Los Angeles.

The embarrassing affair adds an awkward coda to the five-day visit to the United States by Park, South Korea's first female president. During the high-profile trip, her first since taking office in February, she met with President Barack Obama to discuss the recent tensions with North Korea along with other strategic and economic issues.

The South Korean Embassy in Washington now is investigating the incident, Lee said without providing further details on what Yoon is alleged to have done. The presidential office in Seoul didn't respond to repeated requests for further comment.

Asked about the matter, Gwendolyn Crump, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, said, "We are investigating the report of a misdemeanor sexual abuse. We cannot comment further, at this time."

In South Korea, the Democratic Party, the leading opposition group, called for Park to publicly apologize over the matter on Friday, the semiofficial news agency Yonhap reported.

Park and her office "should deeply reflect on their appointment of the wrong personnel and apologize to the people," said Kim Kwan-young, the party's senior spokesman, according to Yonhap.

Park is due to arrive back in Seoul on Friday evening.

Journalist Soo Bin Park reported from Seoul, and CNN's Jethro Mullen reported and wrote from Hong Kong. CNN's Alison Harding in Washington and Judy Kwon in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 0358 GMT (1158 HKT)
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1444 GMT (2244 HKT)
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT