A South Korean diplomat who is accused of sexual harassment while in New Zealand has been ordered to return home immediately by South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, local media claim.

Hongkon Kim, the former Deputy Ambassador to New Zealand is accused of three counts of indecent assault at the Wellington embassy in 2017.

The charges relate to alleged incidents involving a male staff member at the embassy.

A warrant for his arrest was issued by a Wellington District Court judge in late February.

Advertisement

However, Kim had pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains overseas.

According to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, Kim is currently working in the Philippines.

A South Korean senior official told Yonhap News Agency they will co-operate with the New Zealand judicial process if officially requested.

Extradition to New Zealand could be possible, South Korean media reported.

NZ has made strong representation about the case to the South Korean Government. Photo / Supplied
NZ has made strong representation about the case to the South Korean Government. Photo / Supplied

"The official way of resolving the problem raised by the New Zealand side is through formal judicial proceedings," the official said.

"If New Zealand officially requests it, we can co-operate according to procedures such as criminal justice assistance and extradition of criminals."

The Korean Government had had initially refused to co-operate in getting him back to New Zealand to face trial, and he had instead been posted to the Philippines where he is currently serving as Consul-General.

However, A spokesman for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the Herald she raised the matter with Korean President Moon Jae-in in their phone conversation last week.

Advertisement

"She expressed her disappointment that the Korean Government was unable to waive immunity to allow aspects of the police investigation into this matter to proceed," the spokesman said.

The ministry became aware of the police investigation concerning Kim in August last year.

Korea-based journalist Raphael Rashid says South Korean media have called the allegations a "national disgrace, if not an international disgrace" and took to Twitter, writing that the proud nation "is trying to avoid this escalating into a diplomatic disaster with NZ".

READ MORE:
New Zealand pressuring South Korea to co-operate in diplomat sex assault case
Premium - South Korean diplomat charged with indecent assault in Wellington
Businessmen with New Zealand diplomat in Korea avoid charges
Loss of NZ diplomat's immunity rare: Mfat

The ministry sought waivers of diplomatic immunity from the South Korean Government to allow police to conduct evidential inquiries at the South Korean Embassy in Wellington in September.

Kim left NZ in February 2018, and the Mfat spokesman said diplomatic immunity for the former diplomat no longer applied as he was no longer accredited to NZ.

Advertisement

A source close to the alleged victim told the Herald he remains hopeful justice will eventually be served.