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Choi Soon-sil, an old friend of South Korea’s ex-President Park Geun-hye, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for corruption, influence-peddling and abuse of power.

She was at the heart of a massive corruption scandal that brought down Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female president.

Choi Soon-sil had acted for years as an adviser to Park Geun-hye, who has been impeached and is also on trial.

Park Geun-hye has denied any wrongdoing.


The Seoul Central District Court also fined Choi Soon-sil 18 billion Korean won ($16.6 million).

Image source Wikimedia

Choi Soon-sil Scandal: Samsung VP Lee Jae-yong Questioned for Second Time as Suspect

Choi Soon-sil Trial Under Way in South Korea

Chung Yoo-ra: Choi Soon-sil’s Daughter Arrested in Denmark

Choi Soon-sil was accused of using her presidential connections to pressure conglomerates – including electronics giant Samsung and retail group Lotte – for millions of dollars in donations to two non-profit foundations she controlled.

She is already serving a three year jail term for a separate charge of corruption, after she was found guilty of using her position to solicit favors for her daughter.

Park Geun-hye meanwhile has been accused of colluding with Choi Soon-sil. She is currently in custody, with a verdict expected later this year.

The court has also found Shin Dong-bin, chairman of the Lotte Group, guilty of offering bribes to Choi Soon-sil, and jailed him for two years and six months.

President Park Geun-hye was officially ousted in March 2017, following parliament’s decision to impeach her. She was the country’s first democratically-elected president to be forced from office.

After losing her presidential immunity, Park Geun-hye was charged with bribery, abusing state power and leaking state secrets, and her trial began in May.

Samsung’s heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong has been sentenced to five years in prison for corruption.

He was accused of bribery in a scandal that also saw the impeachment of South Korea’s former president, Park Geun-hye.

The case has gripped the public amid growing anger against South Korea’s biggest companies, known as chaebols.

Lee Jae-yong, who denied all charges, had faced a jail sentence of up to 12 years.

The 49-year-old, also known as Jay Y. Lee, the de facto head of Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, had been detained since February on a string of corruption charges.

These included including bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.

Image source Reuters

Lee Jae-yong Goes on Trial for Bribery

Lee Jae-yong Goes on Trial over Embezzlement and Perjury Charges

Samsung VP Lee Jae-yong Arrested on Bribery Charges

Lee Jae-yong was accused of giving donations worth 41 billion won ($36 million) to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of South Korea’s former President Park Geun-hye, in return for political favors.

Prosecutors said the donations were made to Park Geun-hye’s confidante to win government support for a big restructuring of Samsung that would strengthen Lee Jae-yong’s control over Samsung Electronics.

A lawyer for Lee Jae-yonghas said already said they will appeal against the decision.

“We are confident the ruling will be overturned,” lawyer Song Wu-cheol told reporters after the ruling, according to Reuters.

Nevertheless this ruling represents a huge blow to South Korea’s biggest and most well-known business empire. Since the verdict, Samsung shares fell by 1%.

Lee Jae-yong’s conviction raises questions about his leadership of the conglomerate. He has been standing in as chairman since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014.

The Samsung scandal contributed to President Park Geun-hye’s eventual impeachment. Park Geun-hye’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, has already been jailed for three years for corruption.

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Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of South Korea’s former President Park Geun-hye, has been jailed for three years for corruption.

Her conviction for soliciting favors for her daughter is the first in a wide-reaching influence-peddling scandal which brought down President Park Geun-hye.

Choi Soon-sil had acted for years as an adviser to President Park Geun-hye, who has been impeached and is also on trial.

She also faces charges that she accepted bribes for Park Geun-hye.

Park Geun-hye has denied all allegations of corruption.

Choi Soon-sil was found guilty of using her position to influence officials at a university to admit her daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, as well as give her daughter grades for papers or exams she never took.

Image source Getty Images

According to the Yonhap news agency, the court stated in its verdict that “she committed too much wrongdoing to consider the actions were out of love as a mother who wants the best for her child”.

Two former officials at the prestigious Ewha Womans University in Seoul have also been jailed for colluding with Choi Soon-sil.

Choi Soon-sil still faces other charges including abuse of authority, coercion, attempted coercion and attempted fraud.

Prosecutors say Chung Yoo-ra, a 21-year-old award-winning dressage rider, was involved in economic crimes, exam fraud, obstructing business and concealing criminal proceeds.

She has denied all these accusations and said she had no knowledge of her mother’s dealings, including those with Park Geun-hye.

Chung Yoo-ra was arrested in Denmark earlier this year and extradited to South Korea.

She is currently not in detention in Seoul. On June 20, a local court said there was no need to detain her and refused the prosecution’s request for an arrest warrant.

Choi Soon-sil is on trial accused of using her presidential connections to pressure companies to give millions of dollars in donations to two non-profit foundations she controlled.

In exchange, it is alleged they received preferential treatment from the government.

Park Geun-hye is alleged to have been personally involved, instructing Choi Soon-sil and two presidential aides to collect money for the launch of the foundations.

The claims have swept up some of South Korea’s biggest companies, including electronics giant Samsung.

Samsung VP Lee Jae-yong is on trial. Several other Samsung executives and former presidential aides are also either facing trial or are under investigation.

Choi Soon-sil is also accused of having received confidential government documents from Park Geun-hye.

Park Geun-hye was arrested in April and preliminary hearings began in May.

The former leader has previously admitted to some lapses, such as consulting Choi Soon-sil for advice and letting her edit presidential speeches, and has apologized for them.

Moon Jae-in has been sworn in as South Korea’s new leader following his decisive win in the presidential election.

He vowed to address the economy and relations with North Korea in his first speech as president.

Moon Jae-in, 64, said that he would even be willing to visit Pyongyang under the right circumstances.

He took his oath of office in Seoul’s National Assembly building a day after his victory.

The former human rights lawyer and son of North Korean refugees is known for his liberal views.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula remain high and recent weeks have seen the US and North Korea trade angry rhetoric as speculation about another nuclear test grows.

Moon Jae-in has also vowed to unify a divided country reeling from a corruption scandal which saw his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, impeached.

In his inauguration speech, Moon Jae-in said he would “do everything I can to build peace on the Korean peninsula”.

Image source Wikipedia

“If needed I will fly to Washington immediately,” he said.

“I will also go to Beijing and Tokyo and even Pyongyang in the right circumstances.”

Moon Jae-in added that he would have “serious negotiations” with the US and China over the controversial deployment of anti-missile system THAAD.

North Korea has yet to officially comment on Moon Jae-in’s victory and remarks. It had previously hinted that Moon Jae-in was its preferred candidate.

The Democratic Party candidate has also promised to bolster the economy and address youth unemployment, which are key concerns for voters.

Moon Jae-in has been critical of the two previous conservative administrations, which took a hard-line stance against Pyongyang, for failing to stop North Korea’s weapons development.

Since the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953, there have only been two summits where the leaders of the two Koreas have met, both held in Pyongyang.

Moon Jae-in spearheaded preparations for the second meeting in 2007, when serving as a presidential aide.

The US, South Korea’s most important ally, has congratulated Moon Jae-in on his victory.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the US looked forward to continuing to “strengthen the alliance” and “deepen the enduring friendship and partnership”.

Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe said their countries faced common challenges “led by responses to the North Korean issue” but they could “further contribute to peace and prosperity of the region by working together”.

China’s President Xi Jinping said he “always attaches great importance to the relationship between China and South Korea”, and that he was “willing to diligently work with” with Moon Jae-in to ensure both countries benefit, reported Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

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Samsung VP Lee Jae-yong has gone on trial in South Korea for his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led to the ousting of President Park Geun-hye.

Lee Jae-yong denies charges of embezzlement and perjury.

Prosecutors say Lee Jae-yong gave 43 billion Korean won ($38 million) to President Park Guen-hye’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, for political favors.

Park Geun-hye is suspected of colluding with Choi Soon-sil to get conglomerates to donate to Choi’s foundations.

The ousted president was arrested last week, after being impeached, and sent to a detention centre, although she has not yet been formally charged.

Image source Reuters

Lee Jae-yong, who appeared in court in handcuffs, has denied the bribery allegations, saying Samsung was coerced into handing over the funds.

Another four Samsung executives have also appeared in court in connection with the scandal. They also deny the accusations.

Lee Jae-yong’s case is “one of the most deep-rooted and typical cases involving unhealthy relations between politicians and businessmen,” said Special Prosecutor Park Young-Soo in his opening statement in Seoul’s Central District Court.

The 48-year-old vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics has been the parent company Samsung Group’s de facto head since his father Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack in 2014.

On April 7, the chairman of the powerful Lotte conglomerate, Shin Dong-bin, was also being questioned by prosecutors in connection with the widening corruption probe.

They are investigating whether donations given by Lotte to foundations allegedly controlled by Choi Soon-sil were bribes connected to the firm’s bid for a lucrative duty-free business.

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The Sewol ferry has been raised from the sea bed, three years after it sank in one of South Korea’s deadliest disasters.

The ferry sank off the south-western island of Jindo on April 16, 2014, killing 304 people, almost all school children on a trip.

It has been winched to the surface so a platform can be inserted under it for it to be towed ashore.

The Sewol is expected to arrive at port in less than two weeks, where it will be met by the families of victims.

Photo Reuters

The bodies of nine victims are believed to still be trapped inside the sunken ship, and raising it was one of the central demands of their families.

The 16-year-old daughter of Huh Hong-Hwan was one victim whose remains were never found.

The Sewol sinking was blamed on a combination of illegal redesigns, cargo overloading, the inexperience of the crew member steering the vessel, and lax government regulations. The ship’s captain was later convicted of murder.

Anger over the response of the authorities after the disaster contributed to the unpopularity of former President Park Geun-hye, who was recently ousted.

Samsung VP Lee Jae-yong has been arrested in South Korea on charges of bribery.

The case is linked to Choi Soon-sil scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

The tech giant is accused of giving donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of President Park Geun-hye, in exchange for government favors.

Lee Jae-yong and the Samsung Group deny any wrongdoing.

He was first questioned by prosecutors in January, but they decided then not to arrest him.

However, Lee Jae-yong was questioned for a second time earlier this week.

On February 17, the court said it “acknowledged that it is necessary to arrest [Lee Jae-Yong] in light of a newly added criminal charge and new evidence”.

Image source Wikimedia

The prosecution will now investigate further, and has 20 days to file formal charges. The arrest does not reflect a court opinion on guilt or innocence but only means it considers the potential crime very serious or that it assumes a flight risk.

Prosecutors accused Lee Jae-yong of giving donations worth 41 billion won ($36 million) to organizations linked to Choi Soon-sil. They alleged this was done to win government support for a big restructuring of Samsung that would help a smooth leadership transition in favor of Lee Jae-yong, who is standing in as chairman for his ill father, Lee Kun-hee.

The controversial merger required support from the national pension fund – the allegation is that this support was granted in return for the donations.

In a December parliamentary hearing, Samsung admitted giving a total of 20.4 billion won to two foundations, but denied seeking favors in return.

Lee Jae-yong also confirmed the firm gave a horse and money to help the equestrian career of Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, something he said he now regrets.

This centers around President Park Geun-hye’s ties to Choi Soon-sil and has brought allegations of cult activities, influence-peddling and leaks of classified information.

Choi Soon-sil is a long term family friend whose father had already had close ties with Park Geun-hye’s father who was president in the 1970s.

As well as soliciting donations, Choi Soon-sil is accused of using their friendship to interfere in politics.

Choi Soon-sil is now on trial charged with various offences, including abuse of authority, coercion and attempted fraud, and denies wrongdoing.

Parliament voted in December to impeach President Park Geun-hye. Her case is now being heard by the constitutional court. Meanwhile she has been stripped of her presidential powers.

Lee Jae-yong is currently vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics. But since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014, he is considered de facto boss of the entire Samsung Group conglomerate.

Regardless of the outcome, a trial is a big blow to Samsung. Lee Jae-yong’s arrest may not affect short term production or the running of the firm but there could be long term implications.

Shares in Samsung conglomerate’s companies lost between 0.5% and 2% on February 17.

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Samsung VP Lee Jae-yong has been questioned for a second time as a suspect in South Korea’s biggest political corruption scandal.

Prosecutors are expected to decide based on the hearing whether they will seek an arrest warrant for Lee Jae-yong.

Samsung is accused of giving donations to non-profit foundations run by a confidante of President Park Geun-hye in exchange for political favors.

Lee Jae-yong told reports before the hearing: “I will once again tell the truth.”

He had already been questioned with several other company executives in January but a subsequent court ruling decided there were insufficient grounds for an arrest.

Image source Wikimedia

Yet during the past weeks investigators reviewed the case and decided there were new aspects that required further questioning.

The claims against Samsung revolve around a merger between the electronics giant’s construction arm, Samsung C&T, and an affiliate company, Cheil Industries.

The prosecution alleges that Samsung gave 2.8 million euros ($3.1 million) to a company co-owned by President Park Geun-hye’s confidante Choi Soon-sil and her daughter, in return for political support for the deal.

The scandal led to President Park Geun-hye being impeached in December 2016.

Lee Jae-yong, also known as Jay Y. Lee, first gave evidence in front of a parliamentary hearing in December 2016. Since January he has been treated as an official suspect in the case.

At the parliamentary hearing, Samsung admitted giving a total of 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million) to the two foundations, but denied seeking favors in return.

Lee Jae-yong also confirmed Samsung gave a horse and money to help the equestrian career of Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, something he said he now regretted.

Choi Soon-sil is on trial for charges including corruption and coercion.

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A South Korean court has refused a request by prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics Vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong.

On January 19, the judge ruled that there was insufficient reason to arrest Lee Jae-yong over accusations of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.

Lee Jae-yong, known professionally as Jay Y. Lee had been waiting for the ruling overnight since a hearing on January 18.

The allegations were part of a corruption scandal which led parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye.

Samsung Electronics, which has consistently denied any wrongdoing, said in a statement that the “merits of this case can now be determined without the need for detention”.

President Park Geun-hye is accused of abusing her position by colluding with her close friend Choi Soon-sil to use their relationship to secure millions of dollars from major companies. The money was allegedly paid into Choi Soon-sil’s non-profit foundations in exchange for favorable government treatment.

Image source Wikimedia

Prosecutors allege that Samsung paid 43 billion won ($36.3 million) to secure government support for a controversial merger of two of its affiliates.

Samsung has acknowledged making the payments but insists it did not expect anything in return.

South Korea’s special prosecutors had declared Lee Jae-yong a criminal suspect and made a formal request for an arrest warrant earlier this week.

However, the judge ruled that after reviewing the evidence it was “difficult to acknowledge the necessity and substantiality of an arrest at the current stage”.

Opposition lawmakers said the decision was “regrettable” and ignored the strength of public sentiment.

Correspondents say prosecutors’ hopes of stretching criminal proceedings to include President Park Geun-hye may have been knocked off course by the refusal to issue a warrant against Lee Jae-yong.

Samsung is South Korea’s most high-profile company, and its sales are equal to about a fifth of the country’s GDP.

Park Geun-hye, who has faced massive public protest in recent months, has been stripped of her presidential powers while the constitutional court considers her impeachment.

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South Korea’s special prosecutor is seeking an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong, on bribery charges.

The Lee Jae-yong case is linked to a scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geung-hye.

Samsung is accused of giving donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of Park Geun-hye, in exchange for government favors.

The donations were allegedly made as Samsung sought political support for a merger.

Lee Jae-yong, known professionally as Jay Y. Lee, was questioned for more than 20 hours at the prosecutor’s office in Seoul last week.

Jay Y. Lee is currently vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics, but since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014, he is considered de facto boss of the entire Samsung Group conglomerate.

Image source Wikimedia

The news sent Samsung shares lower, with Samsung Electronics stocks down 2% by midday in Seoul, and parent firm Samsung C&T down 0.8%.

A spokesman for the special prosecutor’s office acknowledged the arrest of Lee Jae-yong could be damaging for one of South Korea’s biggest business but said “while the country’s economic conditions are important, upholding justice takes precedence”.

The claims against Samsung center on a controversial merger between the electronics giant’s construction arm, Samsung C&T, and an affiliate company, Cheil Industries.

Prosecutors allege that Samsung gave money to a company co-owned by Choi Soon-sil and her daughter, in return for Park Geun-hye’s support for the deal.

At the parliamentary hearing in December, Samsung admitted giving a total of 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million) to the two foundations, but denied seeking favors.

During that hearing, Lee Jae-yong also said Samsung had made separate payments to help fund Choi Soon-sil’s daughter’s equestrian career, including buying an $850,000 horse – something the Samsung executive says he regrets.

Earlier in the day, the special prosecutor indicted South Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS) chairman Moon Hyung-pyo on charges of abuse of power and giving false testimony.

The NPS is the world’s third-largest pension scheme and was a major shareholder in the two Samsung Group affiliates. It is claimed Moon Hyung-pyo pressured the organization to back the deal – something the NPS has denied.

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Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong has been quizzed at the prosecutor’s office in Seoul as a suspect in South Korea’s biggest political corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye.

Samsung is accused of giving donations to several non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a close friend to President Park Geun-hye.

The donations were allegedly made in exchange for political support of a controversial merger.

The Choi Soon-sil scandal has led to President Park Geun-hye being impeached by South Korea’s parliament last month.

Image source Wikimedia

Lee Jae-yong told reporters upon arriving on January 12: “I deeply apologize to the people for failing to show a positive image because of this incident.”

Earlier this week two other Samsung executives were questioned by the special prosecutors, but were treated as witnesses rather than suspects.

The claims against Samsung circle around a merger between the electronics giant’s construction arm, Samsung C&T, and an affiliate company, Cheil Industries.

Prosecutors allege that Samsung gave €2.8 million euros ($3.1 million) to a company co-owned by Choi Soon-sil and her daughter, in return for Park Geun-hye’s support for the deal.

Lee Jae-yong, known professionally as Jay Y. Lee, has already given evidence to politicians over the scandal, but this is the first time he has been questioned as a suspect by investigators.

At the parliamentary hearing in December, Samsung admitted giving a total of 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million) to the two foundations, but denied seeking favors.

Jay Y. Lee also confirmed Samsung gave a horse and money to help the equestrian career of Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, something he said he now regretted.

Choi Soon-sil is on trial for charges including corruption and coercion.

President Park Geun-hye’s position began to unravel in October 2016, when details of her friendship with Choi Soon-sil began to emerge.

They included revelations that Park Geun-hye had allowed Choi Soon-sil – who holds no government role – to edit political speeches.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of protestors have gathered every weekend in Seoul to demand Park Geun-hye’s resignation.

Park Geun-hye denies wrongdoing but has apologized for the way she managed her relationship with Choi Soon-sil, who also denies committing criminal offences.

Samsung Electronics’ vice-president and heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong is to be quizzed as a suspect in a corruption scandal surrounding the impeached South Korean president, Park Geun-hye.

The tech giant is accused of giving donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of President Park Geun-hye.

Samsung’s donations were allegedly made in exchange for political support of a controversial merger.

Lee Jae-yong will face special prosecutors on January 12, officials said.

Samsung declined to comment.

Since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014, Lee Jae-yong, 48, is considered de facto chief of the entire Samsung Group conglomerate.

Image source Wikimedia

On December 9, the South Korean parliament voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye over the scandal – a decision the country’s constitutional court has six months to uphold or overturn. Until then Park Geun-hye remains formally president but stripped of her powers, which are handed to the prime minister, a presidential appointee.

The claims circle around a merger between Samsung’s construction arm, Samsung C&T, and an affiliate company, Cheil Industries.

Prosecutors allege that Samsung gave €2.8 million euros ($3.1 million) to a company co-owned by Choi Soon-sil and her daughter, in return for Park Geun-hye’s support for the deal.

Lee Jae-yong has already given evidence to politicians over the scandal, but this is the first time he will be interviewed as a suspect by investigators.

At the parliamentary hearing last month, Samsung admitted giving a total of 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million) to the two foundations, but denied seeking favors.

Lee Jae-yong also confirmed Samsung gave a horse and money to help the equestrian career of Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, something he said he now regretted.

Earlier this week two other Samsung executives were questioned by the special prosecutors, but were treated as witnesses rather than suspects.

Park Geun-hye’s position began to unravel in October last year when details of her friendship with Choi Soon-sil began to emerge. They included revelations that the president had allowed her old friend – who holds no government role – to edit political speeches.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of protestors have gathered every weekend to demand President Park Geun-hye to resign.

Park Geun-hye denies wrongdoing but has apologized for the way she managed her relationship with Choi Soon-sil, who also denies committing criminal offences.

Choi Soon-sil has been charged with coercion and attempted fraud.

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The trial of Choi Soon-sil has got under way in South Korea.

Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of President Park Geun-hye, is at the center of an influence-peddling scandal involving the South Korean president.

She is charged with abuse of power and attempted fraud.

Separately, the Constitutional Court began considering President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment over the scandal.

That trial, where the court must ratify or overturn a parliamentary impeachment vote, began despite Park Geun-hye’s absence.

Proceedings opened on January 3 but were curtailed because Park Geun-hye did not attend.

On January 5, the court went ahead anyway.

Image source Getty Images

Park Geun-hye’s lawyer has previously said she will not be in court “unless there are special circumstances”, Yonhap news agency reported.

Both cases center on allegations President Park Geun-hye gave Choi Soon-sil unauthorized access to government decisions and allowed her to exploit their close relationship to solicit money from corporations for foundations from which she benefitted.

Both women have apologized but deny committing criminal offences.

The scandal has rocked South Korea, sparking several huge demonstrations.

While the impeachment process continues, Park Geun-hye remains formally president but with most of her powers handed to the prime minister, a role that normally has little executive authority.

Separately, Yonhap news agency reports that South Korea has sent a formal extradition request to Denmark for Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, several days after saying they were working on it.

Chung Yoo-ra, a former national equestrian rider, was arrested in Denmark on January 8 and later appeared in court accused of overstaying her visa.

Part of the investigation into Choi Soon-sil’s activities relates to a gift horse from South Korean conglomerate Samsung allegedly for Chung Yoo-ra’s training.

The prestigious Ewha Women’s University in Seoul is also accused of giving Chung Yoo-ra a place – she has since left – because of her mother’s connections.

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The daughter of Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of a presidential scandal in South Korea has been arrested in Denmark, South Korean police say.

Chung Yoo-ra, 20, is accused of staying in Denmark illegally, police said.

Choi Soon-sil is accused of using her friendship with South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye for personal gain, including getting her daughter into a top Korean university.

After weeks of protest, parliament voted on December 9 to impeach President Park Geun-hye.

Park Geun-hye and Choi Soon-sil have apologized while denying the accusations.

Image source Yonhap

South Korean authorities had asked for Interpol’s help in tracing Chung Yoo-ra after she failed to return to answer questions about her role in the scandal.

They are reportedly planning to extradite Chung Yoo-ra, a former national equestrian rider.

Choi Soon-sil is in detention having returned from abroad to face questioning.

She has been charged with various offences, including abuse of authority, coercion, attempted coercion and attempted fraud.

South Korea’s constitutional court has six months to uphold or overturn the impeachment vote against President Park Geun-hye.

Until then Park Geun-hye remains formally president but stripped of her powers, which have been handed to the prime minister, a presidential appointee.

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Choi Soon-sil, the South Korean president’s friend who is accused of being behind a massive corruption scandal in the country has been ordered to appear before a parliamentary hearing.

She has been charged over allegations she colluded with President Park Geun-hye to gain influence and money for herself.

Park Geu-hye, who denies corruption, faces an impeachment hearing on December 9.

Amid ongoing street protests, Park Geun-hye has said she will resign once parliament finds a way for her to do so smoothly.

The parliamentary hearing in Seoul is questioning the heads of some of South Korea’s biggest companies, including Samsung, Hyundai, SK, Lotte and LG.

All the companies gave large donations to foundations run by Choi Soon-sil. They are being quizzed over whether the donations were used to gain them favorable treatment by the government.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

All have denied improper activity, though suggested there had been pressure to make donations.

One of the corporate bosses acknowledged that it was difficult for companies to say no to government requests.

“It’s a South Korean reality that if there is a government request, it is difficult for companies to decline,” said Huh Chang-soo, head of the GS Group and chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries lobby group.

Choi Soon-sil, who is in police detention along with two other aides of Park Geun-hye, has so far refused to attend the hearing as a witness, citing ill health.

However, on December 7 she and several other key witnesses, including members of her family, were ordered to appear.

“This hearing is being criticized as a Choi Soon-sil trial without Choi Soon-sil,” said the committee chairman Kim Sung-tae, according to the AFP.

Kim Sung-tae said the panel would “undertake all measures” to make her and other witnesses appear, before sending security officers to collect the group.

They could face jail or fines if they refuse.

The extraordinary scenes are being broadcast live on TV. The panel has no power to punish but its chairman has said the hearing is a place for apologies.

President Park Geun-hye has apologized multiple times to the public for allowing Choi Soon-sil inappropriate access to government decisions but has stopped short of resigning.

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Eight of South Korea’s biggest businesses, including Samsung and Hyundai, are being questioned by parliament in a rare TV hearing as part of a huge corruption inquiry.

The companies admitted giving millions of dollars to funds linked to President Park Geun-hye, but denied seeking favors.

Samsung admitted to giving the daughter of Park Geun-hye’s friend an expensive horse.

Parliament is due to vote on December 9 on the president’s impeachment over her involvement in the scandal.

Massive protests have been held in recent weeks demanding the president’s resignation.

The executives are being questioned by a cross-party committee of lawmakers. The panel has no power to punish but its chairman has said the hearing is a place for apology.

One of the corporate bosses acknowledged that it was difficult for companies to say no to government requests.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

“It’s a South Korean reality that if there is a government request, it is difficult for companies to decline,” said Huh Chang-soo, head of the GS Group and chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries lobby group.

The conglomerates all gave large donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a close confidante of Park Geun-hye.

Choi Soon-sil has been charged with coercion and attempted fraud.

Lawmakers spent the most time grilling Samsung’s Lee Kun-hee. Samsung has been accused of giving donations in exchange for support of a controversial merger that effectively strengthened his position in the company.

Samsung gave a total of 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million) to the two foundations.

Like the other leaders, Lee Kun-hee denied the allegations, saying Samsung “never provided support or gave donations in return for something”.

However, he admitted that his company provided a one billion won ($855,000) horse to Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, a professional equestrian, and said he regretted it.

Lee Kun-hee apologized for Samsung’s involvement in the scandal and said his company would “take all responsibility” if there was any.

South Korea’s family-owned conglomerates, known as chaebols, have increasingly been perceived as a symbol of the out-of-touch elite, and have become a target of public fury in recent protests calling for Park Geun-hye’s resignation.

The president has apologized multiple times to the public for allowing Choi Soon-sil inappropriate access to government decisions but has stopped short of resigning.

Last week Parke Geun-hye said she would leave it to parliament to decide her fate, and on December 6 she was quoted by her party’s leader as saying she would accept the outcome of December 9 impeachment vote.

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South Korea is seeing what is thought to be the largest protests so far demanding President Park Geun-hye steps down.

Park Geun-hye is accused of allowing her friend, Choi Soon-sil, to manipulate power from behind the scenes.

She has apologized twice on national TV, but has so far resisted calls to resign.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

According to protest organizers, 1.3 million people had gathered Seoul on November 26, despite cold weather and snow.

They expect another half a million protesters to turn out in other regions.

However, police put the turnout at about 260,000. About 25,000 officers were being deployed in the capital, local media said.

The protests, which began five weeks ago, are the largest in South Korea since pro-democracy demonstrations of the 1980s.

Those attending on November 26 came from a cross-section of South Korean society, with farmers, Buddhist monks and university students all involved.

Park Geun-hye, whose approval rating has dropped to 5%, apologized earlier this month for putting “too much faith in a personal relationship”, and has pledged to co-operate in an official investigation into the scandal.

South Korea’s constitution does not allow a sitting president to be prosecuted, and Park Geun-hye has 15 months left in her term.

Now that prosecutors have directly linked Park Geun-hye to the scandal, it is possible she could be impeached for breaking the law.

Prosecutors are expected to bring charges against Choi Soon-sil, along with two former presidential aides. She was arrested earlier this month.

Choi Soon-sil is accused of trying to extort huge sums of money from South Korean companies, and suspected of using her friendship with President Park Geun-hye to solicit business donations for a non-profit fund she controlled.

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According to South Korean prosecutors, President Park Geun-hye had a “considerable” role in a corruption scandal involving her close confidante Choi Soon-sil.

Speaking after Choi Soon-sil and two of Prak Geun-hye’s aides were charged, Chief Prosecutor Lee Young-ryeol said the president was “involved as a conspirator” but was immune from prosecution.

Park Geun-hye has faced huge protests and opponents have urged her to quit.

The prosecutor said she would be questioned soon.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

Park Geun-hye, whose approval rating has dropped to 5%, has apologized twice on national TV but has so far resisted calls to resign.

Her office had no comment on November 20. She has previously pledged to cooperate in the investigation but resisted prosecutors’ plans to question her last week, Reuters reported.

South Korea’s parliament has approved a bill to appoint a special prosecutor, who will take over the case from state prosecutors.

South Koreans have reacted angrily to the revelations. The country has witnessed the largest protests since the pro-democracy demonstrations of the 1980s.

Organizers said as many as 500,000 people attended a candlelit rally in the capital this weekend, which brought streets to a standstill for the fourth consecutive Saturday. Police put the figure far lower.

Park Geun-hye is facing growing calls to resign over the scandal. Opposition figures may attempt to impeach her if she refuses to resign in order to protect her immunity.

Choi Soon-sil is accused of trying to extort huge sums of money from South Korean companies, and suspected of using her friendship with Park Geun-hye to solicit business donations for a non-profit fund she controlled.

Also indicted was Ahn Jong-beom, Park Geun-hye’s former senior secretary for policy coordination. Ahn Jong-beom was charged with abuse of authority, coercion and attempted coercion.

The second aide to be charged was Jung Ho-sung, accused of passing classified presidential documents to Choi Spoon-sil, including information on ministerial candidates.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye will be questioned over allegations of political corruption in a scandal that has engulfed her presidency.

According to officials, this will be the first time a sitting president has been questioned by prosecutors.

Park Geun-hye is accused of allowing her friend Choi Soon-sil to manipulate power from behind the scenes.

Hundreds of thousands rallied on November 12 to demand her resignation.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted officials as saying Park Geun-hye’s questioning should take place no later than November 16.

Prosecutors have also questioned top executives at Samsung, Hyundai and Korean Air.

Lee Jae-Yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, was questioned over whether Park Geun-hye pressured the company into donating millions to foundations controlled by her friend Choi Soon-sil.

Choi Soon-sil is accused of trying to extort huge sums of money from South Korean companies and is under arrest on charges of fraud and abuse of power.

She is suspected of using her friendship with President Park Geun-hye to solicit business donations for a non-profit fund she controlled.

Park Geun-hye, whose approval ratings have plummeted to 5% because of the scandal, has said she is “heartbroken”.

On November 12, organizers said some one million people encircled the presidential compound in the South Korean capital of Seoul, in the largest anti-government rally the country has seen.

It was the latest in weeks of demonstrations against President Park Geun-hye.

On November 13, the presidential office said Park Geun-hye was “earnestly considering ways to normalize state affairs” and that she had “heard the voices of the people at the rally”.

South Korea’s constitution does not allow a sitting president to be prosecuted, but investigations are permissible.

Park Geun-hye has 15 months left in her term. If she steps down elections must be held within 60 days.

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As part of an investigation into government corruption, South Korean prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for two former aides of President Park Geun-hye.

Her former senior secretary for policy Ahn Jong-beom, and private secretary Jung Ho-sung, are wanted in relation to charges of fraud and abuse of power.

President Park Geun-hye has so far refused to resign over the scandal. She apologized on TV on November 4.

In the TV address, she admitted that she made an error in allowing her friend Choi Soon-sil inappropriate access to government policy-making.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

However, Park Geun-hye denied allowing cultish rituals to be performed in the presidential palace.

Choi Soon-sil, the daughter of a cult leader, is suspected of using her friendship with the president to solicit donations to a non-profit fund she controlled. She is in detention facing charges.

The corruption scandal, which threatens to engulf Park Geun-hye’s leadership, has left her with an approval rating of just 5%, the lowest ever for a sitting South Korean president.

Tens of thousands of South Koreans have been protesting in Seoul demanding her resignation.

The main opposition party, which said Park Geun-hye’s apology on November 4 lacked sincerity, also called on her to step back from state affairs.

Park Geun-hye became South Korea’s first female president when she was elected in a close-run contest in December 2012.

Choi Soon-sil is the daughter of Choi Tae-min, a shadowy quasi-religious leader who was closely linked to Park Geun-hye’s father, then-President Park Chung-hee.

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South Korean President Park Geun-hye has denied following a religious cult as Choi Soon-sil scandal threatens to engulf her leadership.

In a TV address, Park Geun-hye apologized for allowing Choi Soon-sil, a long-standing friend of her, inappropriate access to government policy-making.

The president agreed to be questioned over the scandal but did not offer to resign.

Choi Soon-sil is suspected of using her friendship with the president to solicit donations to a non-profit fund she controlled.

She is now in detention facing charges of fraud and abuse of power.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

The main opposition party said Park Geun-hye’s apology lacked sincerity and it called on her to step back from state affairs.

Scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators demanding Park Geun-hye’s resignation in central Seoul on November 4.

Choi Soon-sil is the daughter of Choi Tae-min, a shadowy quasi-religious leader who was closely linked to Park Geun-hye’s father, then-president Park Chung-hee.

On November 4, Park Geun-hye went on TV to deny allowing cultish rituals to be held in the presidential palace.

“There have been claims that I fell for a religious cult or had [shamanist rituals] performed in the Blue House, but I would like to clarify that those are absolutely not true,” she said.

The president said she took sole responsibility for access to government documents and was willing to be investigated.

She had “put too much faith in a personal relationship and didn’t look carefully at what was happening”.

Anyone found to have done wrong would be punished, Park Geun-hye said, and “if necessary, I’m determined to let prosecutors investigate me and accept an investigation by an independent counsel too”.

The scandal has left the president with an approval rating of just 5%.

Park Geun-hye has already replaced her prime minster, reshuffled her cabinet and dismissed several aides, but there are growing calls for her resignation or impeachment.

Choo Mi-ae, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, said Park Geun-hye did not believe the apology was genuine and called on her to accept a new prime minister recommended by parliament.

Park Geun-hye became South Korea’s first female president when she was elected in a close-run contest in December 2012.

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Ahn Jong-beom, a former aide to South Korean President Park Geun-hye, has been placed under emergency detention, prosecutors say.

He is the second aide to be detained in a scandal which is threatening Park Geun-hye’s position.

Ahn Jong-beom and Park Geun-hye’s long-time friend and mentor Choi Soon-sil are suspected of using their presidential connections to persuade corporations to donate funds to foundations they were involved with.

Choi Soon-sil was detained on October 31 and is still being held.Park Geun-hye New Year address

Ahn Jong-beom had told reporters on November 2 he would take responsibility for his actions, the Yonhap news agency reports, without giving further details.

He has been placed under emergency detention to prevent the possibility of him tampering with evidence, prosecutors said. They have 48 hours to formally request an arrest warrant in court.

On November 2, prosecutors requested an arrest warrant for Choi Soon-sil. Seoul Central District Court is due to review the request on November 3, a court spokesman said.

Several banks have also been raided in connection with the controversy, which has prompted widespread anger.

Park Geun-hye responded to the crisis on November 2 by reshuffling her government, appointing a new finance minister and prime minister – a largely symbolic role in South Korea.

Surveys suggest Park Geun-hye’s approval rating is about 10%, with about half of respondents saying she should resign or face impeachment.

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Prosecutors have requested an arrest warrant for Choi Soon-sil, a friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye amid a scandal that threatens to bring down her administration.

Choi Soon-sil was detained on October 31, accused of influence peddling and interfering in state affairs.

Eight banks have also been raided in connection with the scandal, South Korean media reported.

The scandal has prompted widespread anger.

Image source Getty Images

Image source Getty Images

Critics say Choi Soon-sil used her closeness to the president to solicit corporate money for foundations she ran, as well as embezzling state funds and directing presidential decisions, despite a lack of office, expertise or security clearance.

Seoul Central District Court will review the request for an arrest warrant for Choi Soon-sil on November 3, a court spokesman said.

President Park Geun-hye has responded by reshuffling her government.

Kim Byong-joon, a senior presidential secretary under a previous administration, was named as prime minister to replace Hwang Kyo-ahn. The role of prime minister is largely symbolic in South Korea, where power is concentrated in the presidency.

Yim Jong-yong, currently Financial Services Commission chairman, was named as the new finance minister and deputy prime minister, replacing Yoo Il-ho.

A new minister of public safety and security has also been appointed.

However, the opposition says the reshuffle is an attempt to deflect attention from Choi Soon-sil.

Surveys show Park Geun-hye’s approval rating is about 10% and about half of respondents say she should resign or face impeachment.

Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of a political scandal threatening South Korean President Park Geun-hye, has been detained.

The woman, a long-time friend of President Park Geun-hye, is accused of influence peddling and interfering in state affairs.

Prosecutors have 48 hours since Choi Soon-sil’s detention on October 31 to decide if they will formally arrest her.

Yesterday, 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 Choi Soon-sil’s financial transactions.

Image source Getty Images

Image source Getty Images

She 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.

Choi Soon-sil 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 on October 31 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.”

Choi Soon-sil had told reporters on October 31 that she “committed a sin that deserves death”.

On November 1, a 45-year-old man who said he wanted to “help Choi Soon-sil die” drove a construction vehicle into the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ office.

Choi Soon-sil was not inside the building, but a security guard was injured in the attack and the building was damaged.

Last week, President Park Geun-hye publicly apologized, admitting “certain documents” had been shared with Choi Soon-sil 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,” Park Geun-hye said.

“I deeply apologize to the people,” she said, before bowing to the camera.

That did little to suppress public anger and about 8,000 people protested on October 29, some calling for Park Geun-hye’s resignation.

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Thousands of South Koreans have rallied in Seoul on October 29, demanding the resignation of President Park Geun-hye.

The protest comes after Park Geun-hye ordered 10 of her senior advisers to quit after admitting she had allowed an old friend to edit political speeches.

Choi Soon-sil, who holds no government job, is also suspected of meddling in policy-making and exploiting her links with the president for financial gain.

Park Geun-hye’s televised apology over the scandal last week sparked widespread accusations of mismanagement.

President Park Geun-hye has issued an apology to the nation after three officials of the country’s intelligence agency were charged with fabricating evidence in a spying case

Image source AP

Police said about 8,000 protesters took to the streets of Seoul on October 29. Organizers said some 20,000 people turned out.

Many held posters reading “Step down, Park Geun-hye”.

“Park has lost her authority as president and showed she doesn’t have the basic qualities to govern a country,” opposition politician Jae-myung Lee was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Park Geun-hye’s TV apology failed to defuse the situation.

The scandal has badly eroded the president’s popularity before next year’s elections, with some opposition parties calling on her to resign.

However, the row has not prevented Park Geun-hye from proposing that presidents be allowed to stand for a second consecutive term.

Park Geun-hye, 64, became the first woman to lead South Korea after winning presidential elections in 2012.

Choi Soon-sil is the daughter of shadowy religious cult leader Choi Tae-min, who was Park Geun-hye’s mentor until his death in 1994.

She left the country last month and is currently in Germany. She has denied in an interview with South Korean media benefiting financially from her government links.

Choi Soon-sil’s lawyer said she was well aware of the “gravity” of the situation and was willing to return to South Korea if summoned by prosecutors.