Woman in South Korea political scandal held
The woman at the centre of a political scandal threatening South Korea’s president has been detained. Choi Soon-sil, a long-time friend of President Park Geun-hye, is accused of influence peddling and interfering in state affairs. Prosecutors have 48 hours since her detention on Monday to decide if they will formally arrest her. On Monday, eight banks were raided in connection with the scandal, South Korean media reported. The Yonhap news agency said the authorities were looking to confiscate documents related to Ms Choi’s financial transaction. Ms Choi has been accused of embezzling money and of pressuring companies to donate to foundations she benefitted from, on the basis of her closeness to the president. She also stands accused of involvement in high-level presidential decision making, despite lacking the security clearance required to handle classified documents. She was placed under emergency detention late on Monday with prosecutors saying they feared she may destroy evidence. “She has fled overseas in the past, and she doesn’t have a permanent address in Korea, making her a flight risk,” a prosecution official told Yonhap. “She is also in an extremely unstable psychological state.” Ms Choi had told reporters on Monday that she “committed a sin that deserves death”. Yesterday morning, a 45year-old man who said he wanted to “help Choi Soon-sil die” drove a construction vehicle into the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ office. Ms Choi was not inside the building, but a security guard was injured in the attack and the building was damaged. Last week, Ms Park publicly apologised, admitting “certain documents” had been shared with Ms Choi and she had been allowed to edit political speeches. “Choi advised me on expressions in my speeches and public relations during the last presidential campaign and she continued to help me for a certain period of time after I took office,” Ms Park said. “I deeply apologise to the people”, she said, before bowing to the camera. That did little to suppress public anger and about 8,000 people protested on Saturday, some calling for Ms Park’s resignation.