The South Korean leader Park Geun-hye has fired one of her spokesman for allegedly committing an unspecified “unsavoury” act during a presidential trip to Washington.
The sacking of the spokesman, Yoon Chang-jung, 56, was announced after he broke off from the presidential delegation and returned home earlier this week.
The presidential Blue House has refused to elaborate on the unspecified acts mentioned but South Korean media claimed that the official sexually groped a young woman.
A Washington Metropolitan Police Department spokesman, Officer Araz Alali, said the department is investigating a report of 'misdemeanor sexual abuse', but he could not comment further.
A police report obtained by The Associated Press stated that a woman told police that a man "grabbed her buttocks without her permission" on Tuesday night at the W Hotel.
The police report does not describe the circumstances or identify the accuser or suspect, except to say that the suspect is 56.
The Blue House told Associated Press that officials in the Embassy in Washington were investigating. The whereabouts of Mr Yoon have not been known since his return home.
A senior press officer for Ms Park said that the spokesman had been fired for an "unsavory act that was inappropriate for a high-ranking government official and damaged the national prestige."
Reports in the South Korean press from journalists who were travelling with the group claimed that Mr Yoon was accused of unwanted sexual contact by a young woman hired as an intern at the South Korean Embassy in Washington.
The incident is likely to be a damaging blow to Ms Park as her office was keen to bill her first trip abroad as an unqualified success.
Mr Yoon, a former journalist and political columnist, was made spokesman for her transition team shortly after her election in December.
Prior to that he was known for his conservative views and vicious attacks against Ms Park's political enemies.
Despite this Ms Park stood by him when she was elected making him presidential spokesman.
The main opposition party said the scandal was a 'forseeable tragedy' and blamed Ms Park for refusing to heed her critics.
South Korea's political and social landscape is fiercely divided, and Park, who was elected in December, has long faced claims from opponents of being aloof and an "imperial" decision-maker. S
She is the eldest child of late President Park Chung-hee, who led South Korea for 18 years in the 1960s and '70s and is both denounced for human rights abuses and praised as a strong leader.Reuse content