A former South Korean presidential contender stepped down as a provincial governor and announced his retirement from politics Tuesday in a stunning political fall after a female aide accused him of multiple rapes.
The stunning fall of Ahn Hee-jung - who came second to Moon Jae-in in the contest to select the Democratic Party's presidential candidate previous year - makes him the most prominent figure to face abuse allegations in a swirling #MeToo movement in what is still a male-dominated society.
Last year, Ahn finished as the runner-up to Moon Jae In, the current President, in the Democratic Party's presidential primary.
On Monday, Kim Ji Eun, the alleged victim, claimed in a JTBC news interview that Ahn raped her four times over eight months, from June 2017 to February this year.
Kim said she will file a complaint with the prosecution Tuesday.
"The governor called me in late at night recently and looked uneasy when he brought up the #MeToo movement issue". "After mentioning MeToo and saying sorry, he did it again, so I thought I would not be able to get out of this. But he did it [again], even on that day". He asked her if she was all right, appearing a little nervous that night, Kim said. "He said he learned from the movement that what he did hurt me and apologised", Kim told local cable channel JTBC.
Kim said she had been raped by Ahn three times prior to the Feb 25 meeting.
While Ahn's office initially said he had consensual sexual relations with Kim, Ahn himself later characterized that explanation as "faulty". "It's all my fault, " he wrote, asking for forgiveness for his "foolish act".
An said in his Facebook account that I am going to resign from the governor and to stop all his political activities, admitting his sexual misconduct.
"I did not have the courage to come forward, but I was inspired by those participating in the #MeToo movement", she said.
Protection measures for the victim are also being discussed, the National Police Agency said.
The allegations and Ahn's admissions sent shock waves across South Korea's political arena, with Ahn's party expelling him and his supporters admonishing him.
About two hours after the broadcast of Kim's interview, the ruling Democratic Party announced that it would proceed to strip Ahn's party membership. "We will also ensure the safety of the victim".
Shin also said earlier that An is considering hiring a lawyer. "We supported Ahn as a man who promotes universal human rights, " the fan club wrote on Twitter.
"We will conduct an investigation in a thorough and speedy manner in accordance with law and principles", an official said.
The #MeToo movement had until recently been relatively muted in South Korea.
Actresses have accused acclaimed filmmaker Kim Ki-duk of sexual harassment, but Kim denies the allegations. But there was a public outcry in January when Seo Ji-hyeon, a public prosecutor, said she was groped at a funeral in 2010.