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[UPDATE] CEO and President of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra Hyun-jung Park Accused of Sexual Harassment, Holds Press Conference, Accuses Art Director Myung-Whun Chung of Staging A Coup

By Jaime Prisco j.prisco@classicalite.com on Dec 11, 2014 01:30 PM EST

Tensions continue to rise in Seoul as president and CEO of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra Hyun-jung Park, who was recently accused of sexually harassing and verbally abusing her employees, goes head to head with art director and principle conductor Myung-Whun Chung, who she claims is organizing a coup against her.

Park, who held a press conference Friday, Dec. 5, denied allegations and accused Chung of starting a petition for her removal. She shared that there were documents from audits that track the director's unethical activities and listed four different cases of complaints about his conduct. At the press conference, she personally listed cases where she believed Chung had abused his authoritative power.

These statements come on the tail of recent allegations made against Park’s unethical behavior. Hyun Jung Park made history when she became the first female president and CEO of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in February 2013.

But 17 of the Seoul Philharmonic’s employees testified in a petition that Park constantly abused them, with one male employee claiming that she had too much to drink at a public dinner gathering and grabbed him by the necktie, attempting to touch his genitals. Three female employees said Park suggested they offer themselves sexually, telling one she would be a good hostess and the other two that they should sit next to important male guests and accommodate their needs.

Many employees said she would often swear at them, threaten to deduct money from their paychecks and say things such as, “You should sell your organs to make up for corporate losses.” She has also been accused of unethical hiring and promoting decisions, basing career advancement on connections rather than merit.

When she became president and CEO of the SPO, she intended to restructure the organization and change the business culture. Apparently, Park had an aggressive style of running business that her employees did not like. Due to the conflict and tension between herself and employees, Park became verbally abusive toward them.

She explained, "It seems that I thought I could use that kind of language."

She seemed to want to clarify the accusations that she treated her female employees like bar hostesses, saying, "I can't remember accurately but I've never even once referred to myself as a 'madam' [a female pimp for prostitutes]."

She continued, "I can't give a definite answer like this. I should have used a bit more refined language, and no matter how despaired I felt or how difficult it was, I should have done better. If there is anyone who felt pain during that time, I feel very apologetic."

But Chung has told the mayor of Seoul he will quit as music director of the philharmonic unless Park is dismissed. After briefing the orchestra at rehearsal, Chung told journalists that "the issue is a clear violation of human rights ... such attitude is not acceptable."

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TagsUPDATE, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Hyun Jung Park, Sexual Harassment, Press Conference, Korea

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