SEOUL – A Famed South Korean TV and film actor who was under investigation for alleged sexual abuse of his students has been found dead, an apparent suicide.
Police and fire officials confirmed that Jo Min-ki, 53, was found dead in Seoul on Friday afternoon. Yonhap News agency said the death was being treated as a suicide, but police would not confirm that.
Police were investigating multiple claims that Jo sexually abused his students when he was a professor at Cheongju University in central South Korea.
Jo initially insisted on his innocence but reportedly later apologized. He resigned from teaching following the allegations. Police were to question him next week but the case will be dropped because of his death.
Jo is among dozens of men in positions of power who have recently been accused of sexual misdeeds by women. The #MeToo movement has spread widely in South Korea since January, when a female prosecutor publicly spoke out about alleged workplace mistreatment after she reported being groped by a senior male prosecutor at a funeral in 2010. A flurry of other allegations followed across arts, entertainment, cinema and politics.
Earlier this week, Ahn Hee-jung, a provincial governor and former presidential contender resigned after an aide accused him of multiple rapes.
The last straw came when Ahn called her into his office on the night of Feb 25, apologized for having hurt her and began talking about the #MeToo movement, she told a television interviewer.
“And then he raped me again,” she said.
Ahn presented himself to prosecutors on Friday for questioning, apologising and saying he would cooperate with the investigation.
It was a stunning fall — Ahn was the governor of South Chungcheong province and came second to current President Moon Jae-in in the contest for the Democratic Party nomination last year.
“First of all, I offer my words of apology to the people and the provincial residents,” Ahn said outside the prosecutors’ office, as a barrage of flashbulbs went off.
“I also feel deeply sorry for my wife and children,” he added, although he did not apologise to his accuser.
In the arts, the most high-profile figures to be accused are award-winning film director Kim Ki-duk and poet Ko Un.
An actress who refused to be named this week accused Kim and a top actor of rape, saying she had quit acting afterwards and was in therapy for years.
The allegations came after Kim’s presence at this year’s Berlin Film Festival caused controversy after he was fined for physically assaulting a different actress.
Kim told MBC television in text messages that he was only involved in “consensual sexual relationships”.
“I never tried to satisfy my personal desires using my status as a film director,” he added.
Seoul poet Choi Young-Mi accused Ko Un, a top poet regularly tipped for the Nobel Prize for literature, of sexually abusing many women in literary circles, after publishing a thinly veiled poem Monster, in which she detailed her experiences at his hands.
His works and almost all references to him and two other alleged perpetrators will be erased from school textbooks, the education ministry said this week.
Ko denied the allegations against him in a statement to The Guardian, saying he did “nothing which might bring shame on my wife or myself”.
Women in South Korea have long been reluctant to come forward about sex abuse due to fears of relentless public shaming and bullying.
Source: The Associated Press