Ex-President of South Korea Receives 24 Years of Imprisonment

By Faith Magbanua, April 10, 2018 20:04 PM

Park Geun-hye(Facebook/ Screenshot)

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been sentenced to 24 years in jail after she was found guilty of abuse of power and coercion on Friday, April 6th. 

The judgement was shown live and represents the culmination of a scandal which rocked the country since it was discovered in October 2016, fueling rage against political and business elites.

Park, who was also fined 18bn won (£12m, $17m), is now facing a string of other corruption charges.

The former president was found guilty of 16 out of 18 charges, most of which related to bribery and coercion.

Furthermore, the court ruled that she had colluded with her close friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure conglomerates, such as electronics giant Samsung and retail chain Lotte, to give millions of dollars to foundations run by Choi.

In addition to her other charges, she was also convicted of forcing companies to sign lucrative deals with firms owned by Choi and donate gifts to Choi and her daughter.

Park was also found guilty of leaking confidential presidential documents to Choi.

Park's downfall

Dubbed as South Korea's first female president, Park and Choi were childhood friends and Choi swiftly became the leader's most trusted confidante.

However, their relationship latterly came under intense public scrutiny and the charge is that Choi had undue influence over a nation's affairs through her connection with Park.

Choi was eventually found guilty of corruption, and sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this year.

The Scandal

After a prolonged series of hearings and months of street protests calling for her resignation from October 2016 to February 2017, Park was finally removed from office in March 2017, making her the first democratically-elected South Korean president to be impeached. Park was arrested shortly afterwards and has been in detention ever since.

Some of the biggest South Korean companies and their leaders have been accused of being involved in the scandal, as well as numerous figures from the entertainment world and government servants.

Samsung's de facto leader JY Lee was singled out in particular, after details emerged that he had given a horse to Choi's daughter Chung Yoo-ra, who is an equestrian.

He was sentenced to jail, but only served five months before he was freed, when an appeals court reduced and suspended his sentence.

Political Balance in South Korea

Her sentencing has drawn a line under what has been one of the biggest corruption scandals to shake South Korea in recent years.

Furthermore, the scandal has generated greater awareness and criticism of the longstanding close ties between the political elite and chaebols, or family-run conglomerates, which dominate South Korea's economy.

It has also fueled the rise of the liberal Moon Jae-in, Park's previous political opponent who eventually replaced her as president after campaigning on a platform of a clean government.

 

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