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An Hee-jung case makes #MeToo an election variable Updated: 2018-03-07 04:04:59 KST


The #MeToo movement has hit Korean politics.
The now former governor of Chungcheongnam-do Province, An Hee-jung, has been accused of sexually assaulting one of his secretaries.
The victim, Kim Ji-eun, appeared on local media Monday and claimed she was raped four times between last June and this February.
Kim said there were other victims as well.
Following the news report, An apologized and announced in a Facebook post that he was resigning as governor and would stop all political activities.
The political repercussions have been huge given that An was a rising figure in the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, and widely considered a possible contender for the presidency.
The ruling bloc moved quickly to minimize the harm to its image by expelling him from the party.

An's downfall comes at a critical time in Korean politics with the June local elections less than 100 days away.
Pundits say it will inevitably affect public sentiment in Chungcheongnam-do Province -- where An served two terms -- and will be a blow to potential ruling party candidates who were planning to run on his policies or hoping to get a boost from his popularity.
However, it's still too early to tell whether this is a game changer.


"The #MeToo movement is not a political issue, but rather an issue of gender equality. And in this case, we're talking about a crime based on authority. At this moment in time, no party will be able to use the incident for their political benefit, since another case could erupt in their own party, in which case the boomerang effect would be even larger. However, the ruling party could take a hit, since An was known for his young and clean image. And because they promoted him as a potential presidential candidate they can't escape the moral issue."

Watchers say An's case could be the first of many more to come -- especially in a male-dominated sector.
For now, the parties have vowed to thoroughly screen potential candidates and come up with concrete measures to encourage victims to speak up and to deal with the culprits.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.
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