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Seoul decides to remove top poet's library over sexual abuse scandal

The Seoul metropolitan government has decided to remove a collection of works dedicated to a top South Korean poet, regularly short-listed for the Nobel Prize in literature, over his alleged sexual harassment of a junior poet, a city official said Wednesday.

The official at the Seoul Metropolitan Library, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the library will keep visitors from accessing the Maninbo library, located on the third floor of the city library and dedicated to renowned poet Ko Un.

At the Maninbo library, named after his best-known poetry book "Maninbo: Ten Thousand Lives," which is about 10,000 people he met or knew in his life, the 84-year-old poet's old study has been recreated and officially opened to the public. 


The decision came after female poet Choi Young-mi revealed her experience of being groped by an unnamed senior poet in a poem titled "Monster" released early this month.

She did not disclose the name of the perpetrator, but the news media have pointed to Ko Un based on the details described in the poem.

After the revelation, Ko offered to leave his home and writing studio, which were provided by the Suwon city government at the foot of a mountain in the city located just south of Seoul, citing demands by neighbors. He has kept silent, however, on the sexual abuse allegations.

The revelations led to many citizens protesting that it is not appropriate for the city government to maintain a place for the poet's literary works at the library and there have been calls for his poems to be removed from school textbooks.

The Seoul library official said, "A pact with the Ko Un side has no clause on the closure of the poet's exhibition space, as we never considered any possibility of closing it." The official added that the library will notify the poet's side of its decision to close the space.

Since a female prosecutor's revelation last month that she was assaulted by a senior prosecutor several years ago, the "#MeToo" movement has rippled through diverse sectors of Korean society.(Yonhap)