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(LEAD) S. Korea will handle diplomat's alleged sexual harassment in New Zealand after finding facts, Moon says

All News 18:07 July 29, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more details in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in told the leader of New Zealand that his government will handle a sexual harassment allegation involving a senior South Korean diplomat, once based in Wellington, after finding relevant facts, a Cheong Wa Dae official said Wednesday.

Moon had phone talks with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the previous day.

She raised the issue at the end of the 30-minute conversation, the official told reporters.

The 2017 case has drawn public attention again since a recent news report in New Zealand. While serving as a counselor at the South Korean Embassy in Wellington at that time, the diplomat was accused of behaving indecently against a local male staffer.

The diplomat, whose name remains withheld formally, left the capital city in 2018 and is now serving as consul general in another foreign country.

There has reportedly since been little progress in a probe by New Zealand's police despite a court-issued arrest warrant.

Responding to Ardern's remarks, Moon said, "Related (South Korean) authorities will handle (the matter) after confirming facts," the Cheong Wa Dae official said on the condition of anonymity.

According to sources familiar with the matter, the foreign ministry had probed the diplomat and had cut his salary for a month as a disciplinary measure before reassigning him to the current post.

"While checking related facts in a stern manner, we will make efforts for a smooth resolution through close communication with New Zealand authorities," a ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in holds phone talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on July 28, 2020, in this photo provided by Cheong Wa Dae. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)



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