SEOUL – A Seoul court on Friday dismissed a defamation suit filed by a revered South Korean poet against a young female poet, who had accused him of sexual harassment.
The Seoul Central District Court ruled that Choi Young-mi’s allegations against Ko Un were credible, based on her consistent testimony along with statements of witnesses, and dismissed his claim for a damage of 1 billion won ($886,000).
The allegation against the 85-year-old Ko, a former Buddhist monk who had been long tipped to win the Nobel Prize for literature, came to light in 2018, when one of Choi’s poems hinted at Ko’s habit of harassing younger women.
Later in several interviews, Choi had alleged that she had witnessed Ko – one of South Korea’s most popular contemporary poets – harassing several women and said that he had also asked her to touch him.
The renowned poet had denied the allegations and filed a defamation suit against Choi and another poet, Park Jin-seong, and a newspaper, who had published the allegations.
The court on Friday, however, ruled that the newspaper had legitimate reasons to publish the allegations against him as he was a public figure.
The court also found Park Jin-seong’s allegations against the poet to be false and ordered him to pay Ko 10 million won.
Following the sexual harassment allegations, which came as part of a global Me Too campaign where women were breaking their silence over sexual harassment, there was wide outrage in South Korea.
Following the accusations, Ko’s works were removed from middle and high school textbooks.
His publisher had also canceled its plan to publish the poet’s new poems.
Ko has been a much-respected figure in the country, especially for his past body of work that had advocated democratization of Korea.
“Our society should no longer overlook a perpetrator shamelessly suing the victim,” Choi said after the court’s ruling, according to a report by the Yonhap news agency.
“I want everyone who helped cover up the truth to look back on their actions,” she had added.