The foreign ministry will convene a disciplinary panel later this week to decide on the penalty for a diplomat accused of leaking the contents of a phone conversation between President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump to a lawmaker, a vice minister said Monday.
The diplomat, who worked at the South Korean Embassy in Washington D.C., has been investigated over the allegation he handed over the contents of the phone call to Rep. Khang Hyo-shang of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party. He was removed from his duty and forced to return to South Korea on Sunday.
A review panel at the ministry, headed by new First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young, is due to discuss the matter before it delivers its recommendation to the disciplinary committee slated for Thursday.
"The matter is of public concern now and we have the duty to report the result to the public at an early date," Cho told reporters.
Cho stressed that there will be no leniency or sympathy toward the person responsible for the "grave misconduct," saying he will make sure the official faces due consequences.
In the phone talks, Moon reportedly asked Trump to visit Seoul immediately after his May 25-28 trip to Japan and Trump proposed a short stop at Seoul on his way back home from Tokyo.
Khang disclosed the conversation early this month, accusing Moon of "begging" for Trump to visit.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Saturday rebutted Khang's claim that disclosure of the phone talks was done in the public's interest; she instead characterized the leak as a "deliberate act" and vowed to penalize those involved according to the rules. (Yonhap)