Presidential secretary Yoon Jae-soon has come under fire for poems he published in the past, including segments that seemingly romanticize sexual harassment.
Yoon, secretary for administrative affairs for President Yoon Suk-yeol, published a poem 20 years ago titled “Inside a Subway Car” that said the subway was a place “where freedom of mischievous boys was guaranteed” and where “(boys) could push or touch voluptuous girls’ bodies.”
The subheading is “Subway cars’ ‘myomi.’” The Korean word “myomi” can mean charm or beauty.
A 2002 version of the poem ends with the phrase, “The girl blushes, unable to say anything.”
A local media report claimed that a previous version, published a year earlier, had another line that read: “They (the government) deprived the rights of boys with something called women-only passenger cars.”
Yoon Jae-soon, secretary for administrative affairs for President Yoon Suk-yeol, apologizes for recent controversies at the National Assembly’s House Steering Committee meeting in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
As the poet-cum-presidential secretary came under fire, a fellow poet, Ryu Geun, defended Yoon’s work. In a Facebook post on May 15, Ryu wrote it could be seen as “ironic satire” of today’s society and the pain social minorities like the old and women face.
Yoon offered an apology for the series of recent controversies surrounding him, including the poem and allegations of sexual harassment in the past.
“If the people (of South Korea) were hurt and felt uncomfortable, it is proper that I should apologize,” Yoon said Tuesday, while attending the National Assembly’s House Steering Committee meeting.
“I realize that I am at the center of a controversy, and am well aware of the concern that many people have (about me). I think it means they expect more from me,” he said
The presidential secretary has a record of sexual misconduct.
While working as a state prosecutor in 2012 he received a warning -- but no other punishment -- from the prosecution for saying to a female subordinate that she “should take off her clothes” at an office dinner accompanied by drinks. He attempted to kiss another female subordinate on the cheek.
President Yoon’s Chief of Staff Kim Dae-ki said at the House Steering Committee meeting on Tuesday that he thought Secretary Yoon’s 2012 comments were “inappropriate.”
By Yoon Min-sik