The Korea Herald


Lee Charm in hot water over allegations of receiving sexual favors

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 13, 2013 - 19:55

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Lee Charm Lee Charm
Lee Charm, CEO of the Korea Tourism Organization, is in hot water for allegedly receiving favors from a subcontractor by visiting a brothel in Japan last year.

While the German-turned-Korean admits to visiting the business, he insisted that he paid for the services on his own, saying it was only a “pure massage to take away the fatigue.”

According to a report by jTBC on Tuesday, the KTO CEO visited Japan during the Lunar New Year holiday in January last year with workers of a subcontract company upon invitation from a Japanese tourism company. There, he was allegedly offered a visit to a brothel and massage parlor, called “soap land” in Japan, by one of subcontractors. Visiting a soap land is not illegal in Japan.

The informant, only identified as Lee, claimed that he had paid 750,000 won ($700) for Lee Charm’s visit to the business for a “massage.”

The KTO did not deny the CEO’s visit but insisted that it was a personal trip, financed on his own. The organization on Wednesday refuted that the news report was released because of a grudge by the subcontractor whose contract expired last year.

“The CEO went on a personal trip to Japan with his friends and paid the travel expenses and visited local tourist attractions including theme parks,” stated the KTO press release.

Lee is one of the longest-serving CEOs in a state-run company in Korea. Lee, known for his enthusiasm for Korean tourism promotion from foreigners’ perspective, was appointed to head the KTO in July 2009 during the previous Lee Myung-bak administration, becoming the first non-native Korean to hold a prestigious post here. He started working in Korea as a German language teacher in the 1980s and married a Korean woman in 1982. He became a Korean citizen in 1986.

By Lee Woo-young (