Jeju province and Governor Woo accept the court's decision and follow the recommendation of the Ministry of Gender, Equality & Family

16 September 2005


Today the Seoul High Court dismissed an appeal filed by Jeju province and its former governor Woo Keun Min against the first decision made in 2002 by the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family (MGEF), which had ruled that Woo's act was a case of sexual harassment. This decision was in line with the Seoul City Administrative Court's decision in May 2004, which also found Woo's behavior inappropriate. We welcome the current decision as it shows respect for women and is supportive of basic human rights.

Today's decision was expected and natural because the MGEF made a thorough investigation of the case through its committee against discrimination before making its decision. Although the matters of sexual harassment that the MGEF used to arbitrate were transferred to the National Human Rights Commission after the law on regulation and prohibition of sexual discrimination was abolished, the essence of the case remains the same and the MGEF’s recommendation is still valid.

It has been four years since the Woo scandal became known. MGEF got active in the case as soon as it was reported by the Jeju Women's Association (JWA) and the victim ('Ms K') in February 2002. Five months later the MGEF decided that Jeju province and Governor Woo should pay the woman 10 million won ( around $ 10,000) and take measures to prevent sexual harassment in public offices. However neither Jeju province nor Gov. Woo accepted the decision, but brought the matter all the way to the Seoul High Court via the Seoul Administrative Court, to get today's decision.

In the meantime, Woo has denied the charges. He sued JWA and Ms K for libel when his act was first exposed, but the Jeju prosecutors' office dismissed the suit. Later, in the election season, he used it against feminist groups so as to cause disruption in the community and the victim had to suffer additional pain and humiliation from slander and vile rumors.

In July 2005 women finally got angry at Jeju province and Woo's second appeal against the Administration Court’s ruling. How much tax money did Jeju province waste on this case? Respding to the anger of local civil groups, the new governor Kim Tae-hwan promised to follow whatever decision Seoul High Court would make. We demand that Jeju province keep its promise and compensate Ms. K and take a step to uproot sexual harassment from civil servants' society, as was recommended by MGEF.

Former governor Woo should accept the decision, too; a repeal should be regarded as immoral and unethical.

We applaud Ms Kim for her courage to have launched this fight and in the end contributed to enhancement of women's rights. We also thank those who have supported her and JWA this far.

We promise to continue to promote women's rights and work towards achieving a society free of sexual offences.