Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra Maestro Resigns Amid Scandal

Michael Song, Dec. 29, 2015, 9:01 a.m.


Maestro Chung Myung-whun said Tuesday he will step down as the music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) amid allegations of embezzlement and a sexual harassment scandal surrounding the orchestra's previous chief conductor. In a letter to SPO members, Chung said it was "regrettable" to leave his post, but he "(has) something more important than music to look after."

"That's the question of philanthropy, and until that question is resolved, I'm no longer able to continue playing music with the SPO," he said. "I want to help the 17 employees who failed to be treated in the way all human-beings deserve to be treated by the former chief conductor." He was referring to allegations that the former SPO chief conductor Park Hyun-jung sexually and verbally harassed her employees last year.

The letter came shortly after Chung's wife was booked on charges of defaming Park. Police said the wife is suspected of ordering Chung's secretary to spread rumors that Park harassed her employees. Chung also canceled nine concerts scheduled for next year and said he will leave the orchestra after the orchestra's choir performance on Wednesday.

Park stepped down as chief conductor in December 2014 after a dozen SPO members filed a complaint against her with the police. She was cleared of the charges in August, with the dozen employees being booked on charges of defaming her last month. Chung's wife is believed to have been staying in a foreign country since December last year, according to the police. SPO's board of directors had previously postponed deliberating on whether to extend Chung's contract as a music director for another year.

 

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