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Ethics panel votes to ax lawmaker for sexual remarks

The parliamentary ethics committee has voted to expel Rep. Kang Yong-seok, a rookie lawmaker who was embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal after making controversial remarks last year about anchorwomen and women in general.

Should the committee’s decision pass the regular session next month, Kang would become the first lawmaker ever dismissed for ethical reasons.

The advisory body of the committee demanded last month that Kang be deprived of his parliamentary seat and the disciplinary subcommittee took up the issue earlier this month.

While the committee was preparing its official decision, the Seoul Western District Court last Wednesday gave a suspended jail term of six months to the disgraced lawmaker.

Kang is to be legally deprived of his elected position should the court’s decision be confirmed by the Supreme Court, according to the public election law.

“Though Rep. Kang is to be considered innocent until proven guilty by the Supreme Court, we, as the parliament’s ethics committee, need to apply stricter rules to the case,” said Rep. Jang Se-hwan of the ethics committee.

The former ruling Grand National Party lawmaker was also barred last year from reentering his party for the next five years, upon the decision of the party’s ethics committee.

Kang, over a dinner with college student participants in a debate contest last year, reportedly said to an aspiring anchorwoman, “(To become an anchorwoman) you’d have to give everything. Do you think you can do that?”

He also reportedly made inappropriate remarks about the presidential couple.

“Even the president kept on looking at you. All men are the same, they like pretty women,” Kang was quoted as saying to a female student who visited Cheong Wa Dae the week before.

“He would have taken your phone number if his wife were not there.”

Kang was also spotted making sexual comments about fellow lawmakers such as Rep. Park Geun-hye, Na Kyung-won and Jeon Hyun-heui, though he denied all charges.

Civic groups advocating women’s rights and the Korea Announcers’ Association largely welcomed the committee’s decision.

“Rep. Kang has shown little sign of regret or humbleness even after being expelled from the party,” said KAA president.

“The National Assembly would be dishonoring its own name, should it fail to expel the inappropriate lawmaker.”

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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