Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, the central figure in a scandal that led to the president’s impeachment, has been arrested in Denmark, South Korean authorities confirmed Monday.
The Justice Ministry in Seoul said it was taking steps to bring her to South Korea without delay as part of the ongoing investigation into the scandal.
According to the National Police Agency, Denmark has notified the South Korean government of her arrest in the northern Danish city of Aalborg on Sunday for staying in the country illegally.
Chung, a 20-year-old former member of the national equestrian team, is suspected of receiving undue favors in admission and academic affairs from Ewha Womans University in Seoul by taking advantage of her mother’s ties to the president.
Independent counsel Park Young-soo, who is leading a special investigation into the scandal involving President Park and her confidante Choi, requested last week an Interpol Red Notice -- an international wanted persons alert -- for Chung, who was thought to be staying in Germany or Denmark with her infant son. Chung was arrested with three others, including a young boy, the Korean police said.
“The request has been sent, but the Interpol Red Notice has not been issued yet,” the chief of the National Police Agency Lee Chul-seong said. “The Justice Ministry will take swift action to take custody of her as soon as possible.”
Under Danish law, a suspect caught on charges of staying in the country illegally can be detained for up to 72 hours. Seoul’s Foreign Ministry also said it would also act immediately to cooperate with related institutes.
If she returns, Chung will face the counsel team seeking to further investigate the allegations that she received favoritism from a dressage body and her university, with her mother pulling strings.
Chung Yoo-ra (Yonhap)
She had her high school graduation and admission to the university canceled after it was revealed that she received special treatment. The special probe team has secured a court warrant to detain Chung for questioning on charges of obstructing the business of the university.
The Korean Equestrian Federation is also currently under investigation for preferentially choosing Chung for the national dressage team in the 2014 Asian Games and planning to help her compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with Samsung.
Choi was arrested in November and is now standing trial for peddling influence in state affairs and extorting funds from conglomerates using her ties with the president.
On Sunday, the special probe team requested an arrest warrant for Ewha Womans University professor Ryu Chul-kyun, who is thought to have illegally given Chung academic advantages, while looking into two other professors from the same university -- Lee In-seong and Lee In-joon -- regarding similar suspicions.
Associates of Samsung will also be summoned this week over the allegations that the conglomerate had funded Choi’s companies and institutes for business favors.
According to the findings, Samsung had donated some 20 billion won ($16.5 million) to the Mir Foundation and K-Sports Foundation -- both government-backed foundations allegedly formed and operated by Choi.
The company also made a contract worth 22 billion won with Choi’s paper company Core Sports (later changed its name to Blue-K) in Germany in March 2015 to “encourage and support” the dressage industry. Before breaching the contract in September the same year, the group has already paid 7.8 billion won, which turned out to have been spent on the personal expenses of Choi’s family.
Lawyer Lee Kyung-jae, who represents Choi and her daughter, said he would cooperate with the special probe when Chung returns to Korea.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com