Lee Charm resigns as tourism chief over sex scandal

Lee Charm leaves Korea Tourism Organization over sex scandal
Lee Tae-hoon
Written by Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Charm

Lee Charm on Friday resigned as head of the Korea Tourism Organization in the wake of growing criticism that he had sex with a prostitute in Japan while on a business trip early this year.

The tourism body held an official farewell ceremony Friday morning despite Lee Charm’s denial of having sex with a prostitute in Japan.

Lee Charm admitted to visiting a “soapland,” the Japanese term for a venue that offers sex for money, but he claimed that he only received a massage without sex.

Lee Charm expressed his intention to sue JTBC which broke the news that he ordered employees to look for places offering sexual entertainment in Tokyo and asked his Japanese host to pay the bill.

“Each person paid about 750,000 won ($700) and the Japanese side ended up footing the bill,” a man who arranged Lee Charm’s trip in Japan was quoted as saying by JTBC.

Born Bernhard Quandt in Germany, Lee Charm arrived in Korea in 1977 as a member of the Unification Church and later acquired Korean citizenship.

About the author

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon is an award-winning investigative journalist and the CEO/founder of The Korea Observer. His fearless reports led to criminal charges against the heads of news and programming at Arirang TV and the conviction of the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Lee's investigative articles also led to the overhaul of the military’s overtime management system; a probe into politicians for dumping classified military documents; disciplinary action against officials at the Joint Chiefs of Staff for corruption; and the revision of school textbooks for exaggerating the propagation of Hangeul. He also exposed major hospitals’ practice of overcharging foreign patients, Boeing’s bribing of defense correspondents with sexual entertainment and many other ethical and legal violations. Lee received the Award for Outstanding Watchdog Journalism by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission and the Best Reporter of the Year Award by the Korea Times. You can reach him at

  • Lee Tae-hoon

    Lee Charm stepped down Friday