The ruling Democratic Party will seek to expel South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung, who is accused of sexually abusing his female aide for months, party officials said Monday.
The decision by the leadership panel came less than two hours after his secretary for political affairs claimed in a TV interview that she was forced into having sexual intercourse with the governor four times over the past eight months. She also accused the liberal politician of sexually assaulting her frequently.
She said she will file a complaint with the prosecution against him on Tuesday.
The party's leaders immediately convened an emergency meeting and decided to deprive him of party membership, party chairwoman Choo Mi-ae told reporters.
Choo apologized to the victim and the public.
An, 54, has reportedly admitted to having sexual relations with his secretary but insisted they were consensual.
He was one of the most prominent politicians in the liberal circles, often cited as the party's next leader or presidential candidate. He ran in the primary of the ruling Democratic Party to pick its candidate for the presidential by-election in May 2017.
Opposition parties lambasted An and the ruling party and demanded his apology and resignation as governor.
"A very bad guy. He should confess what happened and apologize to the public," said Chang Je-won, spokesman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
"We demand his immediate resignation and call for the authorities to take measures to prevent secondary damage to the victim," said Shin Yong-hyeon, spokeswoman of the Bareunmirae Party.
The accusation came amid the fast spread of the Me Too movement in South Korea, triggered by a female prosecutor who revealed in January that she had been sexually assaulted by a senior colleague several years ago. It was followed by a raft of revelations from alleged female victims in the culture, arts, education and religious sectors.(Yonhap News)