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Park Geun-hye’s former aides begin appeal over ‘blacklist’

Former top aides of ousted President Park Geun-hye, who were convicted of running a blacklist of culture figures deemed critical of the Park administration, will begin court appearances this week to appeal their jail terms for abuse of power.

Former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon and former Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun are escorted to the courtroom at the Seoul Central District Court to attend their sentencing hearing on July 27. Yonhap
Former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon and former Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun are escorted to the courtroom at the Seoul Central District Court to attend their sentencing hearing on July 27. Yonhap

The Seoul High Court on Tuesday will begin appeal trials for Park’s ex-chief of staff Kim Ki-choon and other former presidential secretaries, including Kim Sang-ryul, who were sentenced to prison by a lower court in July over their involvement in the blacklist scandal.

Former Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun will also stand trial in the appeal in the same week. Cho was acquitted of her charges related to the scandal, but received a one-year jail term suspended for two years for perjury as she was convicted of lying before the National Assembly at a blacklist scandal hearing last year.

The lower court ruled on July 27 that Kim and other government officials had orchestrated a systematic discrimination against nearly 10,000 leftwing artists, writers and filmmakers whose work appeared unfriendly to the conservative Park administration, cutting them off from state funding.

Kim, who received a three-year term for ordering presidential staff members and Culture Ministry officials to make the blacklist, immediately appealed the ruling, saying his scheme was to keep a balance in state support for progressive and conservative artists.

The blacklist is part of a massive corruption and abuse-of-power scandal that dismissed Park from office in March.

Park herself is on trial over accusations that she took and solicited some 59.2 billion won ($52 million) in bribes from large business groups, including Samsung in collusion with her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.

The case also led hundreds of those on the list to file a lawsuit against the former administration seeking compensation.

The ex-leader, who was arrested on March 31 and indicted on April 17 on a total of 18 charges, has since been detained at a correction facility in a southern suburb of Seoul. Park will continue to stand trial under detention until the first verdict is reached expectedly around mid-November.

Also on Thursday, the court is set to bring Park’s other former senior presidential secretary, Ahn Chong-bum, to the stand in the former president’s hearing to hear witness testimony.

It is Ahn’s first time to take the stand against Park since he was arrested and indicted on Nov. 20 last year. Ahn allegedly carried out Park’s order to push forward with pressuring local conglomerates into paying donations to two new non-profit groups -- the Mir and K-Sports foundations -- effectively controlled by Park and Choi.

By Bak Se-hwan (sh@heraldcorp.com)
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