On Monday, Park Hee-tae, the former chairman of South Korea's National Assembly, was convicted of sexually harassing a female golf caddie last September.
Park, 77, who served as chairman of the South Korean parliament between 2010 and 2012, received a six month prison sentence, suspended for one year, along with a 40-hour mandatory education program for sexual offenders, for his lewd conduct toward a 24-year-old caddie at a golf course in Wonju, about 125 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
The judge in the case, Park Byeong-min of the Chuncheon District Court, made his ruling following the defendant's admission of guilt, noting that the defendant Park had inappropriately and persistently groped the caddie, touching her on her breasts throughout the nine-hole game of golf.
The former lawmaker was engulfed in media controversy when the allegations were first publicized late last year, saying he had touched the caddy's breasts as a sign of his "affection" toward her, as toward his grandchildren, The Korea Times explained.
Judge Park's six-month sentence came as somewhat of a surprise to prosecutors, who were insisting only on a 3 million won ($2,750 US) fine, along with the sex offender education program. The plaintiff had earlier withdrawn her complaint against the former lawmaker, having come to an accommodation with him. However, Judge Park insisted that sexual harassment is a serious crime worthy of punishment even absent the plaintiff's consent, Yonhap explained. "Park sexually harassed the caddie the whole time they played the nine holes, causing extreme emotional distress to the victim," the Judge noted.
The Judge noted that he was actually being lenient toward the defendant, saying that his "deep remorse" and admission of wrong-doing, lack of criminal record, old age, and promise "not to repeat such crude behavior" had played into his sentencing decision.
Park is said to be considering an appeal.
Park resigned in disgrace from the country's parliament in 2012 following a bribery and corruption scandal which had rocked the country's government.