Wife of S. Korea presidential candidate in hot water over rape comments


Kim Keon-hee made her controversial comments in a phone conversation with a reporter. - AFP

SEOUL (AFP): A South Korean opposition party distanced itself Tuesday (Jan 19) from comments made by its presidential candidate's wife, in which she expressed strong support for a former politician currently in prison for rape.

The socially conservative country has been rocked in recent years by a #MeToo movement in which women working for prominent politicians made multiple sexual assault allegations.

The movement has met an at-times misogynistic backlash, with widespread vilification of feminist campaigners and some high-profile women.

South Koreans will elect a new president in March, with the two leading candidates currently neck and neck in the polls.

People Power Party candidate Yoon Suk-yeol's wife made her controversial comments in a phone conversation with a reporter, which was recorded and released this weekend after a court battle.

In the conversation, Kim Keon-hee came to the defence of Ahn Hee-jung, a former presidential contender convicted of raping his secretary on multiple occasions. Ahn was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

"I feel really sorry for Ahn. My husband and I are strongly on Ahn's side," the potential first lady said in the phone call.

Noting allegations against Democratic Party members, she also suggested sexual assault survivors only speak out if they are not paid enough.

"Conservatives make sure to pay," she said. "That's why we don't see #MeToo happening here... #MeToo cases happen when you don't pay your dues."

The secretary who came forward with allegations against Ahn in 2018, and whose testimony helped send him to jail, demanded "a sincere apology" for the comments.

"Your thoughtless remarks have become the seed of second victimisation," Kim Ji-eun said in a statement released Monday.

The People Power Party, for which Yoon is the nominee, had sought to block the airing of the phone conversations with a court injunction, which was thrown out Friday.

A local television channel broadcast the comments over the weekend.

The party downplayed the comments on Tuesday, with party chairman Lee Jun-seok saying in a radio interview that they were "an expression of personal views".

While South Korea is the world's 10th-largest economy and a leading technological power, it remains a patriarchal society with predominantly conservative social mores.

Yoon, a former top prosecutor, is locked in a tight race with ruling-party candidate Lee Jae-myung with the polling gap between the candidates often falling within the margin for error.

Incumbent President Moon Jae-in is legally barred from seeking a second term and is scheduled to step down in May.

Article type: free
User access status:
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

South Korea , rape , presidential , candidate , wife

   

Next In Aseanplus News

Asean News Headlines at 9pm on Friday (May 27, 2022)
'Princess of the Wall of Death': Indonesian daredevil defies gravity and stereotypes
Singaporeans should continue to wear masks if unwell even after Covid-19 is over, says PM Lee; 3,830 new Covid-19 cases on Friday (May 27)
First steps in reforming global health emergency rules agreed at WHO meeting - sources
Indonesia's West Java governor's son missing after swim in Swiss river
Thai garment workers win US$8.3 million (RM36.5 million) in back pay after layoffs
Meeting debt obligations is top Priority for Diokno as new Philippine finance chief
Vietnam reports 1,239 new Covid-19 cases. infections much lower as total goes above 10.7 million
Job crisis looms for Chinese graduates as tech, new energy vehicle firms stop hiring amid Covid-19 lockdowns
Super-rich families face longer wait for tax breaks in Singapore

Others Also Read