The first trial session of former South Chungcheong Provincial Gov. An Hee-jung, who stands accused of sexual assault by his former secretary, was held Monday as women’s rights activists rallied outside the Seoul Western District Court.
Appearing at the court wearing a dark navy suit without a tie, An refused to answer questions from the press.
His former secretary Kim Ji-eun made her first public accusation on live TV on March 5, saying that she was raped by An four times over the course of some eight months, from June 2017 to February this year.
South Korea`s former South Chungcheong Provincial Gov. An Hee-jung arrives at the Seoul Western District Court on Monday. (Yonhap)
Kim filed criminal complaints against An on March 6, and the court indicted him without detention on April 11.
“We are calling for a just decision by the judiciary,” said Koh Mi-kyung, who heads the Korea Women’s Hotline. “We would like to see a decision that protects victims’ rights and punishes the aggressor.”
Yim Yoon-ok, who is the head of the Korean Women Workers Association, stressed that An’s trial is not an isolated case, and the verdict would have a great impact on Korea’s labor market, as sexual violence against female workers are a serious concern.
While admitting that he had sexual intercourse with Kim, An, who is married with two kids, has been claiming that he had “romantic feelings” for her and their relations were consensual.
The former governor had been considered as the ruling Democratic Party’s leading candidate for the next presidential election.
In March, Kim said she has not been able to live a “normal life” after her TV interview was broadcast. She added that false rumors -- including the claim that she was affiliated with “political groups” with suspicious intentions to destroy the ruling party -- were spreading in cyberspace.
The court said it plans to question Kim behind closed doors, to prevent any further damage to the victim. A total of seven trial sessions are to be held by July 16.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org