South Korean Diplomat Charged With Indecent Assault In New Zealand
South Korean diplomat Hongkon Kim was charged with Indecent Assault and warrants for his arrest issued in the New Zealand Courts in February 2020.
- New Zealand Victim First Approached Korean Police
Prior to this, the Korean Embassy in Wellington advised the victim he could make criminal complaints to the Police so he first approached the Korean Police in May 2019.
The Korean Police told the victim “the Korean criminal justice system hasn't focused on supporting victims, and as a result, the scheme of victim support in Korea still leaves a lot to be desired”.
The Korean Police advised the victim to approach the New Zealand Government for assistance.
With support from New Zealand Government agencies, later in 2019, the victim made complaints with the New Zealand Police.
The complaint the victim made to the New Zealand Police was exactly the same complaint he made to the Korean Embassy in Wellington, that he was sexually assaulted three times.
Despite requests to Mr Kim from the New Zealand Police it is disappointing that Mr Kim still has not returned to New Zealand.
- Korea National Assembly to Investigate
The Korean Human Rights Commission has confirmed the victim’s rights were breached. I have seen the written statements by Mr Kim explaining what he did to the victim.
This week the Korean National Assembly will investigate through its annual audit. I hope they will also see those statements, and their investigations will lead to Mr Kim returning to New Zealand.
The actions of the Korean National Assembly Members who attempted to bring Mr Kim before the Korean parliamentary audit are commendable. It is excellent that Korea wants to question him on his actions and find out the truth.
The problem, however, is the truth will never be found if Korea doesn’t also listen to the victim’s account of what happened. This is why Mr Kim must return to New Zealand to answer the charges in the New Zealand Courts.
- International Disgrace for Korea
What happened at the Korean Embassy in Wellington was atrocious, and the comments in the media by some Korean National Assembly Members are further adding to the international disgrace this is bringing to Korea.
Just because a person says they didn’t intend to sexually assault someone doesn’t mean it wasn’t sexual assault. When I hear of suggestions from Korean National Assembly Members about how cultural misunderstandings led to the complaints, I am disgusted.
Such inappropriate attitudes add to the stress and trauma all victims suffer. In this case they bring further embarrassment and international disgrace for Korea.
Sexual assault is never a cultural misunderstanding in New Zealand.
- Korea Needs to Better Support Victims
Korea needs to show better support for victims of sexual assault, when complaints are made, regardless of whether the charges have been proven or not.
It is atrocious that the Korean Foreign Ministry didn’t take adequate steps at the time of the first complaint to protect the victim in 2017.
Now, the Korean National Assembly, the Korean Foreign Ministry and Korean President have an opportunity now to put things right, show respect for the independence of the New Zealand Police and Courts, and restore Korea’s reputation in the world.
In this case of the alleged assaults in Wellington, without any more delay, Korea needs to step up and cooperate with New Zealand to ensure the process of justice and the values our two countries share are upheld.