Ex-Korean envoy to Mongolia resigned over scandal
As the sex scandal involving South Korean diplomats expanded Thursday, it was found that an ambassador to Mongolia resigned last year over an extramarital affair. Park Jin-ho, who served as ambassador to Ulaanbaatar from 2006 through 2009, stepped down in February 2010 for having had an inappropriate relationship with a Mongolian college girl and fathering a child with her, sources said. They say she asked for child support, but Kim refused to pay any.Upon his return to Seoul, she filed a complaint to the South Korean embassy in Mongolia and Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT).
The ambassador is known to have said that the woman threatened him and asked for an exorbitant sum.
Worrying that the incident could harm Korea’s bilateral relationship with Mongolia, MOFAT reportedly wrapped up the case with the ambassador’s resignation.
The foreign ministry has been at one of its lowest points since last year.
Former Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan had to step down in September following the disclosure that the ministry gave preferential treatment in hiring his daughter.
It then vowed to institute reforms including in its recruitment policy.
The ministry, however, was grilled recently when lawmakers discovered errors in the translation of the free trade accord between Korea and the European Union. Then this week, the sex scandal involving a Chinese woman and several South Korean consuls broke, further embarrassing the nation’s diplomatic corps.
Critics say Lee’s tendency to offer consulships as a reward to his aides is to blame for the mistakes that inexperienced politician-turned-diplomats make.
They include Lee’s political appointment of Kim Jeong-kee, the former consul general of Shanghai, and the appointments of Kim Jae-su and Lee Ha-ryong, as consuls general in Los Angeles and Seattle, respectively.
He attempted to nominate a Korean-American who had helped in his election campaign as consul in Atlanta, but he had to withdraw the plan in the face of mounting public criticism
“The problem stems from (Lee’s insistence) to do favors for those who worked for him at the Grand National Party,” said Rep. Park Sun-young of the minor opposition Liberty Forward Party.
Choi Jong-kun, a political professor at Yonsei University, says it was wrong for the President to appoint Kim Jeong-kee as he was inexperienced and unable to handle delicate diplomatic issues.
“It is not absolutely necessary to fill overseas missions with career diplomats,” Choi said. “But it is important to hire someone with professional diplomatic skills.”