Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for South Korea

Newsline: South Korean diplomat stationed in Cambodia relieved for sexual misconduct allegations

A South Korean diplomat stationed in Cambodia has been relieved from the post following allegations of sexual harassment against a female embassy employee, an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The diplomat, whose name and position have been withheld, was ordered to return to Korea and is currently undergoing an internal investigation by the ministry regarding the allegations. On Tuesday, several local news outlets quoting the ministry official reported that, according to a ministry probe, a diplomat dispatched to the South Korean Embassy in Cambodia was released from his position in July for making inappropriate physical contact with a female employee and making unpleasant remarks in March and May. (http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20190911000556) The Foreign Ministry is in hot water as this case marks the latest in a series of irregularities and misbehavior involving high-level workers. In July, a consul general in Japan was relieved from his position and investigated by police regarding accusations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. A year before that, a senior diplomat stationed at the embassy in Pakistan was suspended from his position for three months for sexually molesting a lower-ranking worker. The ministry has maintained a no-tolerance policy on sexual misconduct since 2017, after former Ambassador to Ethiopia Kim Moon-hwan was expelled and imprisoned for sexual abuse charges against three of his female staff members.

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Newsline: South Korea’s foreign ministry probes embezzlement suspicions involving official at embassy in Berlin

The foreign ministry is looking into suspicions that an official at South Korea’s Embassy in Germany embezzled official funds, diplomatic sources said Friday. The official, locally hired in 2009 as an administrative employee handling general finances, was accused of pocketing at least 700 million won ($584,260) from the mission’s coffers between 2013 and 2018, according to the sources. A local media outlet reported earlier that part of the allegedly misused money included budgetary funds that had been set aside for President Moon Jae-in’s visit to the European country in 2017. But this case is not related to such funds, an informed source said. (http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20190906000227) The official has been removed from his post. The ministry said it will take stern measures if the suspicions are confirmed. It is the latest in a string of misconduct and irregularities by officials at foreign missions. Two former ambassadors, to Vietnam and Malaysia, have been fired for accepting gifts in violation of anti-graft law and mistreatment of subordinates, while the ambassador to Mongolia has been referred to the central government’s disciplinary committee over alleged ties with a visa broker.

Newsline: South Korean Embassy in Tokyo receives ‘bullet’ in threat mail

Tokyo police have launched an investigation after the South Korean Embassy received a threatening letter alongside what appeared to be a bullet late last month. Investigative sources say the embassy noticed the delivery of an envelope containing a single sheet of paper and an apparent bullet. The mail was addressed to the former South Korean Ambassador to Japan. The envelope did not bear the sender’s name. (https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190903_23/) The paper inside said the sender possesses rifles and is plotting to target South Koreans. The person also wrote that South Koreans should leave Japan. In a separate case on Sunday, police arrested a 67-year-old man who punched and damaged the embassy’s mail box. The man was posting a letter of protest against the South Korean government.

Newsline: South Korea summons Japan ambassador as export trade curbs take effect

South Korea summoned Japan’s ambassador to protest against a decision to remove Seoul’s fast-track export status, which took effect on Wednesday amid a deepening political and economic feud. Japan dropped South Korea from a so-called white list of favored trade partners this month, which could mean more paperwork and on-site inspections for some Japanese exporters and potentially slow supplies of a range of goods. The decision prompted South Korea to drop Japan from its favored trading list and scrap an intelligence-sharing agreement. South Korean deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong said it was deeply regrettable that Japan’s decision to scrap fast-track export status for South Korea had taken effect. South Korea would be willing to reconsider its decision to end the intelligence-sharing pact if Japan corrected its “unjust measures”, Kim told a news conference. “I want to stress the ball is in Japan’s court,” he said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-japan-labourers/south-korea-summons-japan-ambassador-as-export-trade-curbs-take-effect-idUSKCN1VI0AM) Relations between the two countries worsened late last year after South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered compensation for some Koreans forced to work at Japanese firms during Japan’s 1910-45 occupation.

Newsline: Japan summons South Korean ambassador as row deepens

Japan on Thursday summoned the South Korean ambassador to protest Seoul’s decision to scrap an intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said, as relations between the neighbors further worsened. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-japan-labourers-diplomacy/japan-summons-south-korean-ambassador-as-row-deepens-idUSKCN1VC1KN) Kono also told reporters that South Korea was misreading the security environment following its move. Seoul earlier said it was scrapping the intelligence-sharing pact, a decision that could escalate a dispute over history and trade and undercut security cooperation on North Korea.

Newsline: South Korea’s new U.S. ambassador has called Trump “treacherous”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday appointed a new ambassador to the U.S. who has described Donald Trump as “treacherous,” only a month after Britain’s envoy to Washington had to step down over his criticisms of the U.S. president. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/south-koreas-new-u-s-ambassador-has-called-trump-treacherous/) In the early 2000s, Lee Soo-hyuck, a career diplomat before becoming a ruling party lawmaker, was Seoul’s chief negotiator in the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. Now he will be responsible for guiding the relationship between Seoul and Washington, which have not always seen eye-to-eye over the nuclear-armed North or their own ties.

Newsline: South Korea detains 6 for illegally entering Japan consulate

South Korean police detained six people for allegedly illegally entering a Japanese diplomatic facility in South Korea and staging an anti-Tokyo demonstration there. The incident came amid growing anti-Japanese sentiments in South Korea as the two countries are locked in trade and political disputes. Last Friday, a 78-year-old South Korean man died after setting himself on fire near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/south-korea-detains-illegally-entering-japan-consulate-64478434) The six men and women were given temporary passes to enter the Japanese consulate in the southeastern city of Busan earlier after they told staff there they would visit a library inside the building, according to Busan police officers.