Philharmonic CEO Accused Of Harassment

The Korea Times has reported that the CEO of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra has come under fire from members of her staff, who demand she quit over what they view as behavior unsuited to her position.

Photo: Korea Times
photo via the Korea Times. 

Since Park Hyun-jung was appointed to the post in 2013, 13 of the orchestra’s 27 administrative staff members have quit. The administrative office issued a press release Dec. 2 demanding her resignation. “Park has been sexually assaulting employees and abusing her authority when it comes to hiring and promoting,” reads the document. “We hereby request an internal audit, as well as the resignation of CEO Park.”

Park has reportedly told subordinates to “sell their organs to make up for corporate losses” and remarked to one female employee that she would be better off working “as a bar hostess.”

She changed the organization’s by-laws so that she could, according to the newspaper, “play favorites when hiring or promoting.” She also labeled outreach concerts “shabby.” Park was scheduled to hold a press conference on Dec. 3, but postponed it, saying she needed more time to “prepare for legal action against the employees and the media.”

Korea’s Board of Audit and Inspection has started an investigation into the allegations, which are being characterized by the Korean press as examples of what happens when a person who does not have any experience in a particular field is suddenly placed in a position of power in that field. Park started her career with the powerful Samsung Finance Research Laboratory and eventually rose to the post of CEO of the Women’s Leadership Research Institute. Though she has no musical knowledge or experience in the arts, she was appointed the CEO of SPO in February of 2013.

Her term is supposed to end at the end of January 2016. It is rumored that the mayor of Seoul lobbied for the appointment and pulled strings to make it happen. Though the SPO is one of South Korea’s oldest orchestras and its music director, Chung Myung-whun, is a world-class conductor, the ensemble itself has a low global profile, something that Park’s alleged misconduct will likely exacerbate.