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 publisher at The Korea Observer. He previously worked for the Korea Times and Arirang TV. You can reach him at

  • Lee Tae-hoon

    Lee Charm stepped down Friday

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