The welfare foundation that runs the center selected the chief, surnamed Hong, as its new director on Thursday, according to local media reports. Hong, it has been revealed, resigned from the position in 2016 after she was suspected of child abuse.
Allegations of abuse against Hong were disclosed by a whistle-blower at the center in September 2016. The person reported the case to the Seoul City government, and Hong resigned in November 2016. According to the whistle-blower, numerous children in the center said Hong had beaten them with a wooden stick.
Hong, however, told The Korea Herald on Thursday that she had never hit the children but sometimes applied strict discipline.
The center was forced to close from January and March in 2017 due to the suspicion of abuse. In a civil law case in July 2017, the Seoul Family Court ordered Hong to receive counseling for certain period of time.
Under the current Child Welfare Law, a person who receives a criminal penalty for child abuse cannnot be employed in children-related institutes for 10 years. This did not apply to Hong as she was not criminally convicted.
“There are still many children in the center who are suffering from the traumatic memories. It’s a serious problem that the foundation has been pushing ahead with rehiring the chief,” the lawyer who represented the whistle-blower told the Yonhap News Agency.
Some of the parents have stopped sending their children to the center amid the controversy, while a child has transferred to another center.
By Park Ju-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)