SEOUL, March 6 (UPI) -- Rape allegations made against a popular South Korean politician has sent ripples of shock across the nation, as the #MeToo movement in the country spreads to the political realm.
On Monday evening, South Chungcheong Province Governor Ahn Hee-jung's female secretary Kim Ji-eun claimed in a TV interview that her boss had raped her four times over the past eight months and sexually assaulted her multiple times.
While the governor's office initially insisted the sex had been consensual, Ahn posted a public apology on his social networking site early Tuesday, admitting he had forced Kim into the arrangement and announced his resignation, Chosun Ilbo reported.
Police have launched a preliminary probe into the case, after which inspectors will decide on whether to open a formal investigation.
Protection measures for the victim are also being discussed, the National Police Agency said.
The scandal is highly embarrassing for the ruling Democratic Party (DP) ahead of local government elections in June and as President Moon Jae-in just days ago voiced his full support for the ongoing #MeToo movement in the country.
Given his popularity, Ahn Hee-jung had been tabbed as a potential presidential contender to succeed Moon after his five-year term.
DP lawmakers decided to expel Ahn from the party, after an emergency meeting, but was still hit with criticism by the opposition bloc.
The main conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party said the rape scandal illustrated the duplicity and immorality of the ruling party.
"If the Democratic Party intends to recover from the image of being the 'sexual violence party,' it shouldn't put forward a candidate for the South Gyeongsang Province governorship," said LKP spokesman Chang Je-won,
The minor conservative Bareun Future Party also criticized the ruling party's ethical standards, based on Ahn's "habitual sexual misconducts" and called for a full state investigation into the case, JoongAng Ilbo reported.