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Cover-up suspected in consuls’ scandal

The government is suspected of having kicked leaks of confidential information to a Chinese woman in Shanghai into the long grass, as it learned of her affairs with South Korean diplomats in November.

The consulate in Shanghai sent back two officers who allegedly had inappropriate relationships with the woman, Deng Xinming, to Seoul early November citing “personal problems.”

The men identified only by their initials H and K were interrogated two months later by the Justice Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, and neither was punished.

H had violated regulations to issue a tourist visa to Deng when she already held a spouse visa after marrying a Korean man, but the case was closed as he resigned and fled to China last month.

This is against the rules that ban the government from accepting resignations of officials under internal probes over irregularities.

A division within the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of investigating public officials’ ethics code violations questioned H, K and another former diplomat with the initial P after receiving a complaint from Deng’s husband in December.

The division confirmed the leak of confidential data such as the consulate’s visa records and mobile phone numbers of senior officials and politicians to Deng as well as the diplomats’ affairs with her, but did no more than quietly inform the ministries they belonged to.

K was found to have given Deng President Lee Myung-bak’s itinerary during his visit to Shanghai last May. K is currently working at the Finance Ministry. 

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan listens to an aide during a parliamentary session convened Wednesday to deal with the scandal involving Deng Xinming, a Chinese woman, and South Korean diplomats in Shanghai. (Yonhap News)
Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan listens to an aide during a parliamentary session convened Wednesday to deal with the scandal involving Deng Xinming, a Chinese woman, and South Korean diplomats in Shanghai. (Yonhap News)

The probe into the so-called “Shanghai scandal” is belatedly picking up pace after news reports threw the case into the spotlight Tuesday.

The division under the Prime Minister’s Office interrogated Kim Jung-ki, former consul-general in Shanghai, for a second day Wednesday. It is also considering summoning H, K and P for additional questioning.

K disclosed a new piece of evidence Wednesday to support his claim that he was threatened by Deng.

The note, which he said was written by Deng, makes threats to his son’s safety.

K met Deng around November 2008 upon his arrival in Shanghai when she helped him when his luggage got caught up at the Chinese customs. He consulted her on preparations for the Shanghai Expo, but got into a fight with her last May over visa issues and has been threatened since, according to K.

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said Wednesday that the government plans to launch a joint investigation into the scandal and apologized for the “shameful incident” at the consulate.

Kim’s remarks came as lawmakers on the committee on foreign affairs, trade and unification slammed the government for its insufficient prior response to the case.

Ruling and opposition legislators called for a thorough investigation and punishment by the prosecution during the committee meeting Wednesday.

Slack discipline of diplomatic missions also became an issue as the consulate in Shanghai had been caught for visa issuances twice before, according to reports released by the Board of Audit and Inspection in December 2009.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)

World Pays attention to S. Korean diplomats' sex scandal

The South Korean diplomat sex scandal involving a Chinese woman has been making waves across the world.

(Courtesy from Seoul Shinmun)
(Courtesy from Seoul Shinmun)

The sex-for-favor scandal, in which three S. Korean consuls in Shanghai are alleged to have given confidential government information to their 33-year-old mistress, is rocking South Korea. And now the international media have picked up on the scandal.

On some foreign news websites, the story has already been listed as one of the “most read” articles.

The Sydney Morning Herald posted an article titled “Shanghai sex scandal rocks Korean diplomats,” which already has been listed as the second most read world article.

The Bangkok Post posted “S. Korea’s Shanghai consulate hit by sex scandal,” quoting a Korean daily as saying the case “sounds like a steamy soap opera involving infidelity, secrets and a femme fatale.”

It was Deung’s Korean husband who provided the Seoul government with photos of the Chinese woman with the diplomats.

South Korea is currently planning to send an inter-agency team to Shanghai for an on-site investigation into the scandal.

It remains unclear whether the Chinese woman is a professional spy or just a visa broker.

Other major global news media, including The Washington Post, The Straits Times in Singapore, France 24, and India Times, also reported the Korean sex scandal.

By Moon Ye-bin (yebinm@heraldcorp.com)
Intern reporter

Edited by John Power


<한글 요약>

"상하이 스캔들" 해외에서도 화제

중국 여성과 한국 외교관들과의 추문 사건은 국내뿐만 아니라 해외 언론사에서도 큰 주목을 받고 있다.

한국 사회를 강타하고 있는 “상하이 스캔들”이 확산되자 외신들도 이 사건에 대해 큰 관심을 보이고 있다.

이번 사건은 상하이 주재 한국 외교관들이 33세 중국 여성 덩모씨와 부적절한 관계에서 정부의 기밀이 유출되어 발생됐다.

덩씨는 일반인들은 접근하기 어려운 정부 내부통신망의 인사정보, 주상하이 총영사관 의 비상연락망과 비자 발급 기록, 정부•여당 최고위층을 포함한 정치권 인사 200여 명의 연락처(휴대전화 번호) 등을 가지고 있었다.

해외 언론 사이트에서는 “상하이 스캔들” 기사가 이미 최신 인기뉴스에 올라와있다.

호주 뉴스 사이트인 더 시드니 모닝 헤럴드 (The Sydney Morning Herald)에서는 “상하이 섹스 스캔들 한국 외교관들 흔들어 놓다” 라는 재목과 동시 국제뉴스 인기 기사 2위로 있었다. 

태국 영자신문 더 방콕 포스트(The Bangkok Post)는 “한국의 상하이 주재 외교관들 섹스 스캔들 화제”라는 제목으로 독자들의 눈길을 끌고 있다.

또한 방콕 포스트는 국내일간지를 인용하며 이번 사건을 불륜 드라마로 묘사했다.

그 외 워싱턴 포스트, 스트레이트 타임즈, 프랑스 24, 인디아 타임즈등 주요 외신들도 이번 사건에 대해 보도했다.

한편, 이번 정보유출 의혹은 덩씨의 한국인 남편에 의해 제기됐다.

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