Amid snowballing allegations that prosecutors did not properly investigate a major sex scandal in 2013, calls for extending the reinvestigation period for the case are growing louder.
Former Deputy Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui is suspected of having received sexual bribery from a contractor, Yoon Jung-cheon.
However, the reinvestigation launched by the Justice Ministry’s special commission on past misconduct by the prosecution is likely to be expanded to include allegations of rape and drug use, according to media reports.
This photo shows the country house in Wonju, Gangwon Province where a contractor reportedly hosted parties to offer sexual services to high-ranking officials. (The Korea Herald DB)
Former Deputy Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui (Yonhap)
With the end-of-March deadline for the commission’s investigation fast approaching, 1,033 civic groups including Korea Women’s HotLine and People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy held a protest at Gwanghwamun in Seoul on Friday, urging the Ministry of Justice to extend the investigation period and probe Kim’s allegations thoroughly.
Adding a new twist to the case, a woman surnamed Lee appeared on a KBS news program Thursday, claiming that Kim and Yoon raped her on multiple occasions at a villa and a studio in Seoul.
Lee said she has come to know that there are 30 more female victims, but that she could not elaborate on the orgy as it would have great repercussions.
Lee speaks at a protest held in Gwanghwamun on Friday, urging the Ministry of Justice to extend the investigation period and probe Kim’s allegations thoroughly. (Yonhap)
“The biggest reason (why I agreed to the interview) is that the truth must be revealed,” Lee said, “I found that the truth is being repeatedly covered, so I wanted to provide support (to revealing the case.)”
The sex scandal came to light in March 2013, soon after Kim was appointed vice minister of the Ministry of Justice, when a video of high officials, including a man who appeared to be Kim, taking part in a sex party held at a villa in Gangwon Province was released.
Kim resigned from the position six days later.
Police, using high-resolution footage, confirmed that Kim took part in the sex party and forwarded the case to the prosecutor’s office in July. In November 2013, the prosecution cleared him on grounds that they could not identify Kim in the video.
In 2014, the case resurfaced as Lee who claimed to have been at the sex party accused Kim and Yoon of raping her. She said she was repeatedly raped by Yoon and Kim, as Yoon forcibly drugged and threatened her.
Lee also said Yoon threatened her by saying that he would distribute the illicit video if she refused to comply.
The prosecutors’ office, however, cleared Kim in January 2015, saying it was difficult to identify the woman in the video as Lee.
In the KBS interview, she said that the prosecutors did not take her testimonies into account as she had denied being in the video back in the 2013 investigation. She said the prosecutors humiliated her by asking her to repeat her actions in the video.
In April 2018, the commission reopened the case and began an investigation into allegations surrounding Kim and Yoon.
The commission has also been looking into the prosecutors’ investigations, as charges against him were dropped twice, despite the police and victim having confirmed the man in the video footage was Kim.
The commission is also investigating police, as it found they allegedly omitted some 30,000 pieces of digital evidence, including video footage, when they transferred the case to the prosecutors’ office.
Investigators who have been working against the end-of-March deadline have been calling for an extension of the investigation period, but the commission has so far declined to do so as the deadline had already been extended three times.
Kim, who was summoned by investigators Friday for questioning, did not show up at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office. The commission cannot force him to attend the questioning as it does not have authority to issue a forcible summon.
With the end-of-March deadline for the commission’s investigation fast approaching, 1,033 civic groups including Korea Women’s HotLine and People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy held a protest at Gwanghwamun in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)
If the case is expanded from a sex bribery case to spycam or rape case, the statute of limitations would be extended.
The statute of limitations is seven years for receiving favors illegally. However, it is 15 years for special rape allegations and 25 years when there is scientific evidence supporting the charges. The statute of limitations for secretly filming sex acts is 15 years.
The period of the statute of limitations is critical in Kim’s case, as it is not known for certain when the video was filmed. As the video is believed to have been taken around 2009, some have pointed out that the statute of limitations for receiving favors illegally may have run out.
By Park Ju-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)