The chief spokesman for South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been fired after he allegedly groped a Korean-American woman during the president's five-day trip to the U.S.
The alleged assault is a blemish on an otherwise highly touted visit, which included an address by Park to Congress earlier this week and a summit with President Obama. The South Korean president's office acknowledged the spokesman was fired over a "disgraceful incident" in the U.S.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency described the incident in detail, citing allegations that spokesman Yoon Chang-jung had sexually assaulted the woman at a Washington hotel on Tuesday.
Park reportedly was on her way to Los Angeles when the scandal broke. According to Yonhap, the Washington, D.C., police report said the suspect "grabbed (the victim's) buttocks without her permission."
Park traveled to Washington seeking a show of unity with her country's top ally at a time of high tension with rival North Korea, which unleashed a torrent of threats against Washington and Seoul in March and April. Her performance during a joint news conference with Obama and in a speech to the U.S. Congress won praise in Washington, but her spokesman's firing could cause her political problems in Seoul.
Park, who was inaugurated in late February, faced bitter opposition in her first month on the job to policy proposals and her choices for top government posts, many of whom withdrew amid corruption and other claims.
Yoon, a conservative columnist before joining Park's team last year and becoming spokesman after the inauguration, was disliked by many progressives. 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. 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.
The Associated Press contributed to his report.