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Friday
May102013

S. Korea's President Fires Spokesman Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

LEE JAE-WON/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korea's president fired her spokesman Yoon Chang-jung after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old intern hired by the Korean Embassy at a Washington, D.C., hotel.  Yoon was part of the entourage for President Park Geun-hye's state visit to the U.S.

The district's Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a charge of "misdemeanor sexual abuse," according to Yonhap News Agency.  Yoon, 56, "grabbed her buttocks without her permission" at a hotel in Washington on Tuesday evening, according to the report.

Park immediately sacked Yoon, announcing the move on Thursday at a news briefing in Los Angeles, her final stop of the state visit.

"He was involved in an unsavory incident" and "displayed inappropriate behavior for a high-level official that was believed to hurt national dignity," said presidential press secretary Lee Nam-ki.

The news is leading headlines in South Korean media on Friday, with speculation about what really happened.  Social media is filled with reactions of outrage and embarrassment.

"This is too embarrassing as a Korean," said Kim Eun-young, a CEO of a design company.

"It was an act of pouring cold water to an otherwise satisfactory state visit and greatly hurt the nation's dignity," the ruling Saenuri Party spokesman Min Hyun-joo said.

Calls to Yoon by ABC News were not returned.

The summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and Park's speech at Congress this week had been well-received.  Both heads of state presented a united front against North Korean threats and visions of a stronger alliance ahead.

On the evening of the summit, Yoon apparently drank alcohol with the intern at another hotel lobby close to where he and Park's team were staying, according to Yonhap

South Korean media New Daily reports that Yoon actually drank with the intern and his driver, and then went for another drink at his hotel room, this time inviting only the intern.  He was allegedly wearing "underwear" when she showed up.

The intern reported the incident to the police.  The next day, while Park was delivering a speech to the Congress, Yoon abruptly took a taxi to Dulles Airport, bought a business class ticket and flew back to South Korea.  He reportedly left all his belongings at the checked-in hotel.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio