S. Korean presidential press secretary fired amid sexual assault probe in D.C.


Yoon Chang-jung has been dismissed as press spokesman for South Korean President Park Geun-hye, a government statement said. (LEE SEUNG-BIN/ EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY )

The press spokesman for South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been fired amid an investigation into the alleged groping of woman in a Washington hotel during the leader’s summit visit to the White House this week, according to a government statement reported by several U.S. and foreign news agencies.

According to the statement, the spokesman, Yoon Chang-jung, demonstrated “inappropriate conduct as a high-ranking official and damaged the dignity of the country by being personally involved in an unsavory incident.” It also said the incident damaged the country’s “national prestige.”

South Korean officials announced the firing of the ­56-year-old official on Thursday during a stopover in Los Angeles, according to accounts by the Associated Press, CNN and several news agencies in South Korea.

D.C. police confirmed that the incident is being investigated but declined further comment. “We are investigating the report of a misdemeanor sexual abuse,” according to a police statement in response to questions about the incident.

A police report obtained by The Washington Post said the incident occurred Tuesday between 9:30 and 10 p.m. The location listed on the report is the address for the W Washington Hotel on 15th Street NW.

The police report does not name either the suspect or the victim. It says the complainant alleged that “while inside the event location,” the suspect “grabbed her buttocks without her permission.” No arrests were made, and the case remains under investigation by the sex offense unit.

Police said the complaint was made Wednesday, the day after the incident allegedly occurred. Officers were called to the 2100 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW, which is the Fairfax at Embassy Row hotel, three blocks from the South Korean Embassy.

The Yonhap news agency in South Korea said the woman who filed the complaint is in her early 20s and had been hired by the embassy as an intern to help with the presidential visit. The Seoul-based Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Friday that the incident took place at the hotel bar during a drinking session with embassy staff.

Park’s visit to the United States included a three-day stay in Washington and meetings with President Obama. It was hailed as a success, but the incident at the hotel has caused a political ruckus in South Korea, according to news media there. Yoon was a conservative columnist before being hired as the press spokesman after Park’s inauguration in February.

The Washington Post interviewed the South Korean president earlier this week.

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.
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