|Former presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung (Yonhap News)|
LOS ANGELES -- President Park Geun-hye on Thursday (Friday Korea time) dismissed her spokesman Yoon Chang-jung as rumors spread that he engaged in "inappropriate conduct" during the delegation’s stay in Washington.
“The decision was made as it was deemed that Yoon showed inappropriate conduct as a high-ranking official and damaged the dignity of the country by being involved in a disgraceful event personally while accompanying President Park in her U.S. visit,” said Lee Nam-ki, senior secretary for public relations at a briefing.
Lee said they were checking the details of the incident through the Korean Embassy in the U.S. and that they will clarify the facts once they are confirmed.
The ouster of Yoon tarnished Park’s first overseas trip that was aimed to highlight the new government’s reinforced alliance with Washington and promote wider investment despite the North Korea risk.
It was revealed early Thursday morning that Yoon went home earlier than other delegates accompanying Park.
As his hasty return remained unexplained, rumors spread that Yoon may have performed “fatal misconduct” to lead him to return alone.
On the website of “Missy USA,” a community for Korean women in the U.S., a posting was put up claiming that a Korean student who interned during the summit event was sexually harassed by Yoon.
Yoon joined Park’s team as the spokesman for her transition team after earning himself a name as staunchly right-wing columnist during the presidential election period. Despite criticisms for his incommunicativeness throughout the transition team operation, Park named him as her first Cheong Wa Dae spokesman upon inauguration.
By Lee Joo-hee
Korea Herald correspondent