New Straits Times - - World -

She is set to be­come the fourth for­mer South Korean leader to be ques­tioned by pros­e­cu­tors over cor­rup­tion scan­dals.

Two for­mer army-backed lead­ers, who ruled in the 1980s and the early 1990s — Chun DooHwan and Roh Tae-Woo — served jail terms for bribery af­ter they re­tired.

An­other ex-pres­i­dent, Roh Moo-hyun, killed him­self by jump­ing off a cliff in 2009 af­ter be­ing ques­tioned by pros­e­cu­tors over sus­pected bribery.

The lat­est cor­rup­tion and in­flu­ence-ped­dling scan­dal is cen­tred on Park’s close con­fi­dante, Choi Soon-sil, who is on trial for abuse of power and co­er­cion.

Choi is ac­cused of us­ing her pres­i­den­tial ties to force lo­cal firms, in­clud­ing Sam­sung, to “do­nate” nearly US$70 mil­lion (RM311.4 mil­lion) to non-profit foun­da­tions she al­legedly used for per­sonal gain.

Park — the 65-year-old daugh­ter of the late for­mer strong­man Park Chung-hee — has been named as Choi’s ac­com­plice who helped her ex­tract money from the firms.

The scan­dal that rocked the na­tion has seen the heir to elec­tron­ics gi­ant Sam­sung, Lee Jaey­ong, ar­rested and charged with bribery for of­fer­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to Choi in re­turn for pol­icy favours from Park.

The for­mer pres­i­dent is also ac­cused of let­ting Choi, who has no ti­tle or se­cu­rity clear­ance, han­dle a wide range of state af­fairs, in­clud­ing nom­i­na­tion of top of­fi­cials and diplo­mats.

Park voiced de­fi­ance over the court rul­ing, say­ing “the truth will even­tu­ally be re­vealed” through her spokesman af­ter re­turn­ing to her pri­vate home on Sun­day.

The ouster of Park, who had com­manded a huge following among older, con­ser­va­tive South Kore­ans who ben­e­fited from the rapid growth un­der her fa­ther’s 1961-79 rule, has sparked an­gry, some­times vi­o­lent, protests by her sup­port­ers. AFP


A file picture show­ing for­mer South Korean pres­i­dent Park Ge­un­hye with her pets at the Blue House in Seoul.

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