Published: Sun, April 02, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Ousted Park to Face Questions for First Time Over Korea Scandal


South Korean President Park Geun-Hye has met prosecutors for questioning over a corruption scandal that toppled her, after using executive privilege to avoid them for months while in office. "I will faithfully cooperate with questioning", Park told media on Tuesday, while being escorted by police to the prosecutor's office.

"I offer an apology to the people of our country", Park said upon her arrival.

A special investigation team headed by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office chief Lee Young-ryeol is now investigating allegations involving Park, her inner circle and large business groups.

( CG+, PS) It's possible that Park was first asked about the allegations that she abused her power for personal gain and pressured conglomerates for donations in exchange for political favors.

She is accused of 13 charges including power abuse by allowing her friend Choi Soon-sil without any public title access to classified information as well as a wide range of state affairs and receiving bribes from corporate heads including Samsung Group de facto leader Jay Y. Lee now under pretrial detention on the bribery charge. After the March 10 Constitutional Court ruling, Park supporters clashed with police, leaving three dead. Security forces have been deployed to prevent any untoward incident.

When she left the prosecutors' office and got into a black sedan waiting for her, Park didn't make any comments to reporters.

Park's leadership had begun to ebb well before, when she faced public anger over her handling of the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking that killed more than 300 people, mostly school children. A prominent liberal opposition politician, Moon Jae-in, is leading in opinion polls and is expected to win a snap presidential election on May 9.

Park has not been charged but prosecutors have accused her of bribery and abuse of power.

A 30-year-old man who identified himself as Lee said he was disappointed at Park, as she didn't admit to her wrongdoings and look honest.

Park is also suspected of having a senior presidential secretary pressure the Lotte Group into giving an additional 7 billion won ($6 million) to the K-Sports foundation to finance the construction of a sports facility in the city of Hanam, which was to be operated by a private company established by Choi.

They also held a rally near the office's main gate calling for her arrest. Roh Tae-woo was grilled on charges of creating massive slush funds during his term in November 1995, Chun Doo Hwan was questioned for mutiny and treason in December 1995 and Roh Moo-hyun was questioned in April 2009 over bribery allegations. Choi, as well as the head of Samsung are already facing criminal chargesin connection with the allegations facing Park.

"Prosecutors will never be free from the people's judgment if they fail to arrest Park Geun-hye".

During a one-hour break, she stayed in the prosecution's office and had a rice roll, sushi and a sandwich for lunch with her lawyers, according to the lawyers.

The Liberty Korea Party, a conservative party that Park is still a member of, defended her, asking prosecutors to show the former president respect.

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