Korea Tourism Organisation chief caught in sex scandal

Lee Charm, CEO of the Korea Tourism Organisation, resigned Friday following controversy over allegedly receiving sexual favours.

Lee has been embroiled in the controversy over an alleged visit to a brothel in Japan. A report by jTBC Tuesday showed that the KTO CEO had been treated to a visit to a brothel and massage parlour called "soap land" in Japan as a favour by a subcontractor. Visiting a "soap land" is not illegal in Japan.

The KTO did not deny the CEO's visit but insisted that it was a personal trip, financed on his own. The organisation on Wednesday said the news report was released because of a grudge by a subcontractor whose contract with the KTO expired last year.

Lee insisted he would bring the issue to the court, prove the truth and recover his honour. But three days later, he announced his resignation noting it would put an undue burden on his organisation.

"I see the tremendous burden that has been put on the KTO since the issue broke out and it seems impossible to carry out my duties as a CEO," said Lee in his statement of resignation Friday.

"This is a very important time for the Korean tourism industry. Therefore, as head of the Korea Tourism Organisation, I decided to resign for the tourism industry and my organisation," he said.

The KTO vice-CEO Kang Ki-hong will serve as acting CEO until a new chief officer is appointed. Lee's term had expired in July, but he continued in the post as a new CEO had not been appointed.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)