South Korea orders diplomat to New Zealand to return over sexual assault allegations

The foreign ministry has ordered a senior diplomat to return home immediately over allegations that he sexually assaulted a local embassy employee when he was stationed in New Zealand, an official said Monday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the New Zealander has accused the senior diplomat of groping parts of his body on three different occasions in 2017. The case has drawn fresh attention after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised the issue in a phone call with President Moon Jae-in last week.

“We issued an order as of today for him to return home immediately. It’s a personnel measure taken for causing a lot of trouble,” a senior ministry official said, adding that South Korea is willing to cooperate on the diplomat’s extradition in case of New Zealand’s request.

The diplomat left Wellington in February 2018 and is now stationed in the Philippines.

On Saturday, Winston Peters, New Zealand’s foreign minister, also urged Seoul to cooperate by waiving the accused man’s diplomatic immunity and sending him to New Zealand for an investigation.

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