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A glimpse into Park’s day at prosecutors’ office

Park will deliver a message to the public before being questioned over corruption allegations

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Published : 2017-03-20 17:58
Updated : 2017-03-20 17:58

A day before the questioning of former President Park Geun-hye, the public prosecutors’ office was in full swing Monday to prepare for the high-profile event.

Security has been tightened around the office, media companies have set up camera ladders and a press line has been set up to mark the route Park will head to the building.

Expelled from power on March 10 over a corruption scandal, the former leader will be read her rights before being questioned just like any ordinary criminal suspect. She faces a total of 13 charges, including bribery, abuse of authority and leak of government secrets.

The Korea Herald gives you a glimpse into what Park will go through Tuesday, becoming the fourth ex-president in the country to face a criminal investigation. 

President Park Geun-hye (Yonhap)

How will Park’s day proceed?

Park is expected to arrive at the main gate of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in Seocho-dong shortly before 9:30 a.m., after a 15-minute ride by car from her private residence in Samseong-dong.

She will be escorted by security guards, provided by the Blue House, and her lawyers.

As Park gets out of her car and walks toward the prosecutors’ office, journalists will ask questions at her from behind the press line, which has been drawn to give Park about 7 meters’ space from the army of reporters.

For security reasons, only journalists and camera crew who were earlier granted exclusive access to the scene will be allowed into the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.

Before heading to the interrogation room, Park will have a short meeting over tea with high ranking officials from the special probe team on the 13th floor.

In the previous cases of former President Roh Tae-woo and Roh Moo-hyun, who were investigated in 1995 and 2009 respectively, the tea meetings lasted for 10-15 minutes.

Park will likely be grilled by investigators in the investigation room on the 10th floor, equipped with video and audio recording facilities.


Will she make any public statement?

Park’s lawyer Sohn Beom-kyu said Monday that Park will make comments herself before entering the office.

“She will make a statement. She has prepared a message. I don’t know what she will say,” he said.

The last message from Park after moving out of the presidential residence was, “The truth will come out someday.” Coming two days after the court ruled to uphold the parliamentary impeachment of her, it was widely taken as a hint at her unwillingness to concede.

Other ex-presidents also made short comments before being questioned. Roh Tae-woo said, “I am sorry to the public” and Roh Moo-hyun said “This is shameful.”


Who will question Park?

The prosecution will allegedly assign senior prosecutors under the special probe team -- Han Woong-jae and Lee Won-seok.

They were part of the special probe team which investigated the corruption scandal involving Park, Choi Soon-sil and local conglomerates until the probe was handed over to an independent counsel Park Young-soo in December.

Han is set to grill Park over her alleged bribery charge and extortion of donations from local firms for the Mir and K-Sports foundations -- entities controlled by Choi.

Lee is set to question Park over suspicions that Samsung Group sponsored Choi’s daughter Chung Yoo-ra for equestrian training abroad and gave donations to a Winter Sports Center under the influence of Choi’s niece Jang Si-ho in exchange for favors.


How long will the questioning last?

“We think the questioning will be conducted until late,” an official from the special probe team told reporters Monday. “Questioning past midnight is only possible with the consent (of the suspect).”

Given that Park faces more complicated charges than previous presidents, the prosecution is expected to ask hundreds of questions and the questioning is likely to last past midnight.

Ex-presidents Roh Tae-woo and Roh Moo-hyun were grilled for 17 hours and 13 hours, respectively. Both of them were questioned over allegations that they received illicit political funds from businesses.


What are Park’s charges?

Park faces eight charges filed by the prosecution and five charges including bribery additionally filed by the independent counsel.

She is suspected of receiving bribes from Samsung Group in return for political favors, creating a blacklist of liberal artists to discriminate against them and leaking government secrets to Choi.

Park has denied all the charges, claiming no knowledge of Choi and her inner circle’s wrongdoings.

Her friend Choi and others, including ex-presidential secretaries and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, have been arrested and are standing trial in connection with the corruption scandal.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)