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Former South Chungcheong governor finishes prison term

Former South Chungcheong Province Governor An Hee-jung walks out of the Yeoju Correctional Institution in Gyeonggi Province, Thursday. (Yonhap)
Former South Chungcheong Province Governor An Hee-jung walks out of the Yeoju Correctional Institution in Gyeonggi Province, Thursday. (Yonhap)

Former South Chungcheong Province Governor An Hee-jung was discharged from prison on Thursday after he completed a 3 1/2 year-long prison term for raping his female secretary.

An, who came out of the Yeoju Correctional Institution in Gyeonggi Province early in the morning, was greeted by some 60 friends and acquaintances who were waiting in front of the prison.

The former governor was convicted on charges of sexually assaulting an official under his charge and sexual assault through abuse of professional authority.

He did not respond to questions from reporters as he boarded a vehicle prepared outside the prison.

As he finishes his prison term, there is a possibility that he may return to the political scene, although the chances are very low.

The ex-governor is prohibited from running for an official post for the next 10 years under the election law, which will prevent him from running in the 2024 parliamentary elections, 2026 local elections and the 2027 presidential election.

The fact that he served a prison term for a sexual crime is also expected to weigh on his future political life. The Democratic Party of Korea will also be pressured not to help An make a comeback due to anticipated public backlash.

When former President Moon Jae-in sent flowers to the funeral of An’s father in March, criticisms mounted in the political circle, with some members of the Democratic Party also openly criticizing the gesture.

An, who was one of the close aides of former President Roh Moo-Hyun, was once considered a powerful presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.

However, his political life went downhill after he was accused of forcing a female secretary to have sex with him several times between 2017 and 2018.

An stepped down as governor in 2018 over the accusations. In September 2019, the Supreme Court finalized the 3 1/2-year prison sentence for An.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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