Seoul, South Korea (AP) –The South Korean Air Force Secretary resigned on Friday in the face of public anger at the death of a female sergeant, whose family said she had committed suicide after being sexually abused by a male colleague.
Cheong Wa Dae Moon Jae-in said he had accepted the resignation of Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Lee Sung-young.
Lee’s resignation took place the day after the Defense Ministry announced that an Air Force sergeant had been arrested on suspicion of indecent assaulting a woman in a car on her way back to base after a supper in March.
According to a presidential petition filed by a woman’s family, she reported the case to her boss, but committed suicide in May after trying to cover up the case and pressured her to reach a private settlement with the abuser.
As of Friday afternoon, more than 340,000 people had signed the petition, seeking punishment for Air Force personnel involved in the concealment.
Public anger urged President Moon to order the military on Thursday to conduct a thorough investigation into how the Air Force handled the case.
South Korean troops have long been criticized for failing to protect female soldiers and officers from sexual harassment and violence.
In 2017, a female Navy officer was raped by a senior officer and committed suicide, and was later sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 2013, a female army officer committed suicide after being harassed by her male boss. He was sentenced to two years in prison.