|Former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui / Korea Times file|
President Moon Jae-in's special ordering of a thorough reinvestigation this week has cast a fresh spotlight on a 2013 sex scandal possibly involving influential figures from government, politics and business circles.
The scandal is centered on former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui, who retired from public service in March 2013 amid allegations that he attended a sex party hosted by local contractor Yoon Jung-cheon at his villa in Wonju, 120 km east of Seoul.
The scandal became known to the public after a video clip that was leaked during an adultery probe against Yoon showed a drunken orgy at the remote Wonju villa in which a group of men, including one believed to be Kim, were having a sex party with about 30 women.
Kim was forced to resign only six days after he was appointed to the No. 2 post at the Ministry of Justice, as police and prosecutors launched their investigations into the scandal.
Yoon was suspected of seeking business favors by providing officials and other influential figures sex services, and investigators also suspected illegal substances may have been used by those who frequented the estate.
Yoon probably used the sexual favors as "leverage" to advance his business and even blackmail those involved so he would not be charged by authorities for breaking the law. Yoon was previously implicated in criminal frauds, unauthorized recording of sexual acts and possible possession of illegal substances.
Kim has maintained his innocence.
A businesswoman who leaked the video testified that Kim was the man in the blurry clip, although the National Forensic Service said it couldn't categorically reach the same conclusion.
Prosecutors also rejected a police request to impose an overseas travel ban on Kim on the grounds that police failed to provide legitimate steps for the move and didn't have sufficient evidence against him.
In November of the same year, the prosecution ended its investigation into the sex scandal without filing criminal charges against Kim or Yoon, saying the figures in the video clip could not be identified.
At the time, critics insisted the prosecution intentionally covered up the case apparently under instruction from top figures of the then Park Geun-hye administration, including then-Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is now the chairman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
Following Moon's order, the justice ministry's special commission on past misconduct by the prosecution said Monday it will extend the deadline of its operation, slated for the end of March, by two months.
The commission is expected to dig into the possibility of applying a special rape charge against Kim and reopen a probe into other influential figures who attended the party.
It will also look into suspicion that police and prosecutors who were in charge of investigating the scandal in 2013 purposely overlooked a variety of crucial evidence.
Another focal point in the upcoming reinvestigation is the statute of limitations.
With the controversial video believed to have been shot around 2009, the seven-year statute of limitations for the charge of receiving simple amenities has already run out.
If allegations of forced use of drugs and sexual assault are borne out by evidence, however, the statute of limitations will be lengthened to 15 to 25 years, rendering a criminal punishment of Kim and other suspects possible. (Yonhap)