S.Korean women’s activists slam wife of politician in #MeToo case

Ahn Hee-jung is by far the highest-profile individual to be named in South Korea’s ongoing #MeToo movement. (Facebook pic)

SEOUL: A coalition of more than 150 South Korean women’s and rights groups slammed the wife of a jailed politician involved in the nation’s highest-profile #MeToo case on Thursday after she claimed her husband never raped the victim.

Min Joo-won is the wife of former presidential contender Ahn Hee-jung, who was jailed earlier this month in an appeal trial stemming from allegations he repeatedly raped his female aide, Kim Ji-eun.

Ahn, who before the scandal was seen as a strong candidate to replace President Moon Jae-in when his term ends in 2022, is by far the highest-profile individual to be named in the country’s ongoing #MeToo movement.

On February 1 he was found guilty of nine charges, including sexual intercourse by abuse of authority — a move welcomed by women’s activists, who were infuriated by his acquittal by a lower court last year. He was sentenced to three and a half years in jail.

But late Wednesday Min Joo-won claimed in a Facebook post that the case involving her husband was “not a #MeToo case” but one of “an extramarital affair”.

She further argued that she and her children are the “biggest victims” of the situation.

“I cannot acknowledge Kim Ji-eun as a victim,” Min wrote.

“I cannot forgive Ahn Hee-jung and Kim Ji-eun. Those two people destroyed my family.”

Her post was endorsed by more than 1,000 people as of Thursday afternoon.

Min made similar arguments when she testified at a hearing at the Seoul Western District Court last year.

Ahn has also insisted that the sex was consensual.

Some 158 human rights and women’s groups in the country released a statement asking Min to “stop causing secondary victimisation” of Kim.

“What Min is doing is causing another set of trauma to Kim,” said an activist who did not wish to be named.

“Min is using all the tactics of victim blaming — questioning the victim’s credibility and motives, and framing the case as an instance of ‘affair’. This should stop,” she said.

Kim welcomed the appeal court’s decision earlier this month, saying she can now say goodbye to the “painful past when I lived like a witch being burnt at the stake”.

“I also send my message of solidarity to other victims of sexual violence whose voices were ignored in spite of speaking up.”