Lawmaker-elect to leave party over allegations of sexual assault
A lawmaker-elect quit the ruling Saenuri Party Wednesday over allegations that he attempted to rape the wife of his late brother 10 years ago, saying he will return to the party after clearing "misunderstandings" about him.
Kim Hyung-tae, 60, who was elected in a district in the southeastern city of Pohang in last week's general elections, said in a statement he decided to leave the party in order not to cause any more trouble to the party and its leader Park Geun-hye because of "my unfortunate family affair."
"Though I am leaving today, I will make sure to return to the party that I love and Chairwoman Park that I respect after dispelling misunderstandings about me and sorting out legal problems," Kim said. "I earnestly hope I will be able to return to the party as early as possible" and help it win December's presidential election.
Kim's departure came after reports that the party was considering expelling him.
A journalist-turned-politician, Kim has been accused of attempting to rape the wife of his late brother in 2002 in his studio apartment, commonly known here as an officetel, after asking her to visit Seoul from her home in Busan to discuss tuition for her son.
The sister-in-law claimed that she fought off the rape attempt and reported the allegations to the rival candidate in Kim's district ahead of the April 11 parliamentary elections, claiming that an attempted rapist should not be elected a lawmaker.
Her husband died of cancer in 1995.
Kim has rejected the accusations as a political smear campaign.
On Wednesday, Kim claimed that the alleged incident happened around April 2002 when his sister-in-law made frequent visits to Seoul to get money from him, and "whether it was a sexual assault or not" will be determined in an investigation by law enforcement authorities.
Police are looking into the incident after both sides filed complaints against each other.
But the alleged victim recently made public the audio recording of a conversation purportedly between Kim and her son, where a man believed to be Kim acknowledged the wrongdoing and offered an apology.
Kim's departure will leave the party with 151 seats in the 300-member new National Assembly.
The party has also been considering taking action against another lawmaker-elect, Moon Dae-sung, over allegations of plagiarism in an academic paper for his Ph.D. degree.
A former taekwondo athlete, Moon, 36, rose to stardom after winning gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics with a spectacular knockout kick in the final. He later became an athlete member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a professor at a university in Busan.
Moon denies the plagiarism allegations.
The main opposition Democratic United Party demanded that Saenuri leader Park ask lawmakers-elect Kim and Moon to give up their parliamentary seats.(Yonhap)