Former S Korean governor denies rape charges, submits photographs as proof of 'consensual sex'

Former S Korean governor denies rape charges, submits photographs as proof of 'consensual sex'
PHOTO: The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Former South Chungcheong Province Gov. An Hee-jung, who is currently under investigation by the prosecution after being accused of rape by two women, denied the charges and submitted photographs as evidence of consensual sex.

The photographs reportedly show An and each of the alleged victims posing together. An, who is married, has said that he had extramarital affairs with the two women, but never sexually abused them.

"I thought (my sexual relationships with the women) were consensual, but the accusers claim that was not the case. I apologise to them," An told reporters Monday after arriving at the Seoul Western District Prosecutors' Office for questioning.

An, who had been widely considered for the ruling Democratic Party of Korea's next presidential candidate, has been accused of raping the women, both of whom had worked for him, on multiple occasions. Both of the alleged victims filed a legal complaint against An to the prosecution.

One of them, Kim Ji-eun, is An's former secretary while he was serving as the governor of South Chungcheong Province. Kim, who made her public allegation on live TV on March 5, has said she was raped by An four times over the course of some eight months, from June 2017 to February this year.

The other woman, who filed her complaint anonymously, worked for An at his political think tank, and says she was sexually assaulted by An seven times over the course of more than a year, from October 2015 until January last year. Of the seven assaults, the alleged victim alleges she was raped on three occasions.

Shortly after Kim's allegations were made public online, but before she made her TV appearance on March 5, An's office had initially responded by claiming that although An did engage in sexual intercourse with Kim, it was consensual.

The next day, An retracted his office's initial statement and acknowledged Kim's allegations, saying, "my secretary office's response is wrong" and "everything is my fault." He then resigned from his governor post.

An changed his narrative once again Monday, saying he never had non-consensual sex with the two women.

During the TV interview on March 5, An's former secretary Kim said it was virtually impossible to reject An's requests or orders, as he was a powerful politician and her superior at work.

"An would always tell me, 'Don't share your opinions, don't share your thoughts. You are my mirror. Live as if you are my shadow,'" Kim said during the interview when asked about her thoughts on An's office saying that their relationship had been consensual.

"I was never able to question him on anything. I always had to obey him."

Prior to the two women's allegations, An had portrayed himself as a loving husband through his social media accounts, often posting pictures of his wife alongside romantic messages.

On March 9, after presenting himself at the prosecutors' office and voluntarily submitting to questioning, he said to a reporter, "I'm sorry to the accusers, but don't you think my wife must be suffering more than the accusers?"

"No matter what happens to me in the future, I would like to do my best to be there for my family as much as I can," he added.

Also on Monday, novelist and university professor Ha Il-ji stepped down from his teaching post after students complained about remarks he had made over the ongoing #MeToo movement, including ex-Gov. An's case, in class.

He reportedly said one of An's alleged victims must have made her allegations "because of her jealousy," and she would not have accused him of rape if he offered to marry her.

While he resigned from his post at Dongduk Women's University, he refused to apologise to the students.

"I'm the victim in this situation and I'm deeply hurt as a writer," he said, claiming he had "the right to share his opinions freely" in his classes.

Ha is a self-proclaimed feminist, while ex-Gov. An had publicly endorsed the #MeToo movement as well as feminist authors prior to the accusations leveled against him.

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