Moon accepts Air Force chief’s resignation over sex assault case

June 4, 2021

President Moon Jae-in accepted the resignation of South Korea’s Air Force chief Friday over a recent sexual assault case that led to the death of a female victim.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Lee Seong-yong offered to step down to take responsibility for his organization’s handling of the incident.

The victim, a master sergeant, was found dead in an apparent suicide at her official residence in late May, about three months after suffering unwanted physical touching by a male colleague of the same rank in a car at night. Her senior officers allegedly tried to cover up the case.

The president “immediately accepted” the Air Force chief’s resignation, Park Soo-hyun, senior presidential secretary for public communication, said at a press briefing.

The announcement came 80 minutes after news reports of the general’s move.

President Moon Jae-in in a file photo (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in in a file photo (Yonhap)

“The process related to handling the resignation will be carried out as quickly as possible,” Park added.

A Cheong Wa Dae official later told reporters that Moon’s swift decision represents his “strong will” to get relevant procedures done as soon as possible, he added.

Regarding the remaining process, he cited the possibility that the general will face a probe himself over the handling of the case before he retires.

Asked about whether Defense Minister Suh Wook could be held responsible as well, the official stressed, “Nobody in the highest command line can be an exception (in terms of strict measures).”

But it is not appropriate for now to talk about the odds of the minister being dismissed, as a decision would be made in the wake of all relevant probes, he added, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity.

On Thursday, the president publicly ordered a thorough investigation and stern measures against those who are to blame, including top-level commanders.