sex scandal-police probe

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Police said Friday they are exploring the possibility that other high-profile figures could be implicated in a widening sex bribery scandal that has rocked Korean society.

Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui offered to resign on Thursday, following media reports that police have obtained evidence that Kim was one of several influential figures involved in the scandal. In 2009, the powerful figures received sex services from about a dozen women hired by a local construction contractor, who was seeking business favors. Kim's resignation came only a week after he was appointed to the post,

"We can investigate other figures if they were found to be involved in the crime," a police officer said but did not disclose the identity of those who were allegedly implicated in the scandal.

Media reports have also been circulating that the 52-year-old contractor, only identified by his surname Yoon, and eight to nine figures "in the upper tier of the society," including former and incumbent high-ranking government officials and the head of a hospital, are under a police probe.

Police said they have requested a forensic agency to analyze video footage that allegedly shows intimate rendezvous between the figures and the women at a luxury vacation home in Wonju, 132 kilometers east of Seoul, which is allegedly owned by Yoon.

The footage, about two to three minutes long, is blurry, police said, adding that it would take considerable time to find out the exact timing, place and the identity of the people.

Kim denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the reports as "untrue," but said he was resigning, because with his name disgraced, he could no longer do his job properly.

Despite the resignation, Kim is expected to face police questioning soon over the scandal as the probe is picking up speed. If questioned, Kim will become the first among former high-ranking prosecutors to be the subject of a police investigation.

Police also said they have asked the Justice Ministry to ban Yoon and two other people, who allegedly provided drugs, from leaving the country as there are suspicions that people used drugs during a party at the vacation home.

Investigators said they will focus on finding out whether Yoon committed illegal acts while trying to win a construction contract and the figures, who allegedly received sexual services, peddled their influence for Yoon.

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