South Korean envoy to Singapore fired over Japanese 'comfort women' deal allegations: report

Lee Sang-deok, third from left, South Korean Ambassador to Singapore with other guests at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, Thursday, after hosting the Korean National Day reception. Korean Embassy to Singapore

South Korean Ambassador to Singapore Lee Sang-deok has been dismissed from his post, the Korea Times reported on Tuesday.

Lee was asked to leave for his alleged role in the controversial 2015 reparations deal over Japan sexual slavery of Korean women, the report said citing an unidentified source.

The Korea Times cited confirmation from Seoul's foreign ministry that Lee had permanently returned to Seoul, but that his leaving was not related to the deal.

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"I don't know the details but all I know is that Lee gave up his job because of a purely personal matter," the report said quoting Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Noh Kyu-duk as saying.

"I don't know what position Lee will take in Seoul," he added. "A new ambassador won't be appointed until the regular reshuffle in spring."

Lee, who was appointed as ambassador in April 2016 by former President Park Geun-hye, was scheduled to end his term in April, 2019.

The dismissal has raised speculation that Lee was ousted by President Moon Jae-in for his role as chief negotiator for the agreement reached in December 2015 under the Park administration, the report said.

This article was first published on January 31, 2018