Joint diplo­matic steps

The Korea Times - - OPINION -

The govern­ment has taken an in­evitable step of or­der­ing home a diplo­mat al­leged to have in­de­cently as­saulted a lo­cal em­bassy worker in 2017 in New Zealand.

The ac­tion fol­lows New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern rais­ing the is­sue in a phone call with Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in about a week ago, and other se­nior ranking of­fi­cials urg­ing Seoul to take ac­tion.

The For­eign Min­istry has said that it will co­op­er­ate on crim­i­nal mat­ters and ex­tra­di­tion if the New Zealand side makes an of­fi­cial re­quest, within the scope of diplo­matic im­mu­nity.

It is the due course of ac­tion, al­beit be­lated. Back in 2017, a lo­cal staff mem­ber at the Korean Em­bassy in Welling­ton re­ported that the diplo­mat, then a deputy am­bas­sador, al­legedly groped him on over three oc­ca­sions. There was no ac­tion taken by the em­bassy. The al­leged vic­tim then filed a com­plaint with the Na­tional

Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion of Korea. The Korean diplo­mat, who was or­dered home from his post in the Philip­pines, did not co­op­er­ate with the com­mis­sion nor with the on­go­ing New Zealand po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The diplo­mat re­ceived a light dis­ci­plinary warn­ing af­ter re­turn­ing to Seoul in 2018.

A South Korean for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial noted that New Zealand high­light­ing the is­sue in the lead­ers’ phone call was con­sid­ered very un­usual diplo­matic prac­tice. The se­ries of de­vel­op­ments, how­ever, makes it hard to dis­miss New Zealand’s con­cerns that Seoul is drag­ging its feet.

Al­le­ga­tions of in­de­cent as­sault are grave, a mat­ter that the two coun­tries should work through in ju­ridi­cal pro­ceed­ings. Seoul should fully co­op­er­ate on any of­fi­cial re­quests from Welling­ton and the lat­ter should also trust­fully work with its of­fi­cial coun­ter­part to re­solve the mat­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.