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Korean diplomat in Ethiopia grilled over rape claims

Rape allegations at embassy in Ethiopia

(The Korea Times) — A Korean diplomat accused of sexually assaulting a female staff member at the Korean Embassy in Ethiopia was questioned in Seoul after being summoned here Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.

The case follows a series of sex offenses involving foreign ministry officials over the past few years despite the ministry’s zero tolerance policy against those offenders.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha ordered the chiefs of all diplomatic missions abroad to seriously observe discipline about appropriate conduct, calling the latest alleged sexual assault case “deplorable.”

She said she will also consider possible measures to tighten discipline throughout the ministry and at overseas diplomatic missions.

The internal oversight inspectors at the ministry questioned the suspect, Thursday, after it received a report that he allegedly raped a junior administrative staff member at the embassy, July 8. It did not give further details about him.

He allegedly invited the victim, a contract employee, for dinner at a local restaurant for “helping him out” on a project.

The victim, who arrived in Seoul, Tuesday, testified that they drank three bottles of wine at the dinner before she passed out, was taken to the official’s house and was sexually assaulted.

With her mother’s support, she sought help from an overseas call center operated by the ministry a day after the incident.

She also underwent a medical examination to secure relevant proof.

The foreign ministry said it summoned the diplomat for a thorough investigation as he changed his testimony before embassy officials.

He first testified that he did not recall what happened because he was too drunk but later denied the allegations against him.

The ministry said its disciplinary committee will hold a meeting next week to make a decision based on its findings.

“He can face severe disciplinary action, criminal charges and other punitive measures in accordance with relevant laws and procedures,” an official said.

The ministry will also decide whether to hold the Korean Ambassador to Ethiopia Kim Moon-hwan responsible for the incident.

Kim has been on leave in Seoul and was planning to go back to Ethiopia, Thursday.

In 2016, an official at the Korean Embassy in Chile was expelled from his job after being accused of sexually molesting and raping Chilean teenage girls as well as sexually harassing the Chilean wife of a Korean immigrant there.

In 2015, a male diplomat was found to have raped a junior female official while they were on a business trip to Africa.

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