SEOUL - South Korea's Foreign Ministry plans to give severe penalties and pursue legal action against a diplomat who is accused of harassing at least two teenage girls while working in Chile, officials said Wednesday.
After a two-day investigation on the diplomat, who returned home the day before, the ministry confirmed some of the allegations, to which he also partially admitted. The decision was based on his testimonies and those by others, as well as a video unveiled in a Chilean television show in which the official is seen attempting to hug and kiss a girl while trying to take another into his room.
The ministry will convene a disciplinary committee as early as next week and decide on its action.
"He did concede to having harassed the minors, but flatly denied a rape claim, and on other accusations, he did not see them as problematic or said he did not remember," a ministry official told reporters on customary condition of anonymity.
"With some of the confirmed ones, it shouldn't be a problem taking severe disciplinary action against him," the official said, adding that the agency will make further preparations before pursuing a criminal charge.
The incident shook not only the Korean community in Chile but the diplomatic circle here as the government has been tightening discipline across public offices, especially since the National Assembly passed an impeachment motion against President Park Geun-hye earlier this month.
During an interview aired as part of the show, one of the girls said, "I even came to think of suicide because I felt it was extremely disgusting."
The diplomat was seen repeating "Please" to the programme's producer who apparently brought up the issue.
The two girls are believed to be around 13 years old and students of a Korean language course of the diplomat, who had served as a cultural diplomacy officer. The girls' parents have also filed a complaint against him there.