A Seoul court on Wednesday handed down a one-year prison term for a former Korean ambassador for sex offenses against subordinate workers by abusing his occupational authority, when he was stationed in Ethiopia.
Seoul Central District Court sentenced former Ambassador to Ethiopia Kim Moon-hwan to one year in jail and ordered him to undergo 40 hours of treatment for sex offenders. The court also prohibited Kim from working at children-related institutes for three years.
Kim was detained immediately after the ruling.
The former ambassador was charged with sexually assaulting and raping three female workers by abusing his occupational authority. The court concluded he was guilty of two charges, raping a worker at a related organization in March 2015 by abusing his authority, and of sexually assaulting another subordinate worker in a separate case. However, the court acquitted Kim of the third alleged sexual assault, citing a lack of evidence.
“While (Kim) was a head of an overseas embassy who was responsible for protecting Korean nationals, he abused that authority to sexually assault and rape his subordinates,” the judge said.
“Considering the position and the power of the defendant, the victim stands as a subordinate to Kim,” the judge said in explaining that Kim raped the victim using his occupational authority.
The judge also explained that Kim caused more pain to the victims by denying the charges against him and attempting to shift the blame.
Kim had denied the allegations, claiming that sexual intercourse was consensual and that he did not abuse his occupational power. Physical contact with the other two workers did not constitute sexual offenses, he had claimed.
The former ambassador had demanded a trial by jury, which the court rejected over concerns it could cause secondary damage to the victims.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched a special investigative team to look into Kim’s alleged sexual misconduct in Ethiopia and pressed charges against him with the prosecution in August 2017. The ministry fired Kim in September in the same year.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)