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International relations

Diplomat sex scandal in New Zealand imperils South Korean WTO bid

Ardern has asked Moon to send suspect back to Wellington to face charges

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speak after a summit in Auckland, New Zealand, in December 2018.   © EPA/Jiji

SEOUL -- Allegations of sexual assault by a senior South Korean diplomat in New Zealand are souring bilateral ties, putting at risk Seoul's hopes of installing its candidate as the next head of the World Trade Organization.

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in to send Kim Hong-kon back to Wellington, where he has been charged with three counts of sexual assault involving a male staff member at the South Korean Embassy in 2017.

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