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South Korean President Park Geun Hye has fired her spokesman Yoon Chang Jung for involvement in an unspecified "unsavory" act, her office said Thursday.
The firing comes amid allegations Yoon sexually harassed a South Korean woman while accompanying the president on a trip to the United States, Yonhap News Agency reported from Los Angeles and Washington.
South Korea's senior presidential press secretary Lee Nam Ki announced Yoon's dismissal, saying Yoon was "personally involved in an unsavory incident" that "hurt the national dignity."
Rumors had been rampant that Yoon harassed a South Korean woman in her early 20s who was temporarily hired by the embassy in Washington to assist with duties related to the president's visit, Yonhap said.
"We are investigating the report of a misdemeanor sexual abuse. We cannot comment further, at this time," Gwendolyn Crump, director of the Office of Communications at the Metropolitan Police Department, told Yonhap News Agency by e-mail.
She was responding to an inquiry over whether the department had received any report of a sexual assault involving a "South Korean official" with the name "Yoon Chang-jung."
A formal two-page police report she later e-mailed to Yonhap did not include a name, only describing a suspect as a 56-year-old male.
The report said the suspect "grabbed her buttocks without her permission" at a Washington hotel sometime between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Tuesday.
The dismissal of the presidential official came as a surprise, especially as Park is still on her trip to the United States.
She flew to Los Angeles on Wednesday after a three-day stay in Washington where she had summit talks with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Yoon returned to Seoul from Washington on Wednesday, not accompanying Park to Los Angeles, the third and final stop on her five-day visit to the United States.
His return sparked speculation as to what caused him to cut the trip short.
Yoon, a former journalist and political columnist, was spokesman for Park's transition team before his appointment as presidential spokesman.