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Appeals trials underway for Park’s key accomplices

The verdict on former President Park Geun-hye came after her key accomplices in the massive corruption and influence-peddling scandal were found guilty and sentenced to jail terms.

In February, Park’s longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil was sentenced to 20 years in prison, a fine of 18 billion won ($16.9 million) and forfeiture of 7.29 billion won on convictions of bribery, abuse of power and coercion, among others.

The ruling on Choi was made by the same judge that handed down the verdict on Park on Friday at the Seoul Central District Court.

Choi, arrested and indicted on 18 counts of corruption in November 2016, was accused of exploiting her ties with the former president and forcing 50 conglomerates to pay a combined 77.4 billion won to two nonprofit foundations she controlled.

An Chong-bum, who served as Park’s senior presidential secretary for policy coordination, was given six years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 100 million won for accepting bribes and collaborating with Choi to coerce conglomerates to make donations.

An Chong-bum (Yonhap)
An Chong-bum (Yonhap)

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail for bribery, as he was convicted of providing 7 billion won to Choi’s foundations in exchange for regaining the license for a lucrative duty-free business.

Park’s former aide for civil affairs Woo Byung-woo was given two and a half years in prison on charges of dereliction of duty, abuse of power and perjury. The Seoul Central District Court found Woo guilty of neglecting his duty to look into Choi’s wrongdoings and playing an active role in concealing them.

Second trials are now underway for Choi, An, Shin and Woo, while others await their final trials.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to five years in prison for offering bribes to Choi, but was released from jail in February after the Seoul High Court overturned the lower court’s ruling on major charges against him and gave him a suspended sentence.

In January, the Seoul High Court sentenced Kim Ki-choon, former presidential chief of staff to Park, to four years in prison for creating a blacklist of artists deemed critical of the conservative Park administration. The appeals court raised the sentence for Kim from three years given by a lower court.

The Seoul High Court gave former Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun two years in jail for creating and managing the list, reversing the lower court’s suspended sentence.

Kim and Choi, indicted in February 2017 on charges of abuse of power and perjury, are accused of masterminding the blacklisting of nearly 10,000 artists, writers and filmmakers. Those on the list were denied state subsidies or lost their jobs in the mainstream media.

Unlike the lower court, the appellate court acknowledged that former President Park was complicit in the discriminatory treatment of artists.

Former presidential secretary Jeong Ho-seong was sentenced to a 1 1/2 year in prison for leaking confidential presidential documents to Choi. The Seoul High Court in February upheld a lower court ruling that found him guilty of conspiring with Park to provide 47 secret documents to Choi.

Hours before Friday‘s ruling on Park, her former economic aide Cho Won-dong received a suspended jail term for colluding with Park in a failed attempt to coerce CJ Group to dismiss its Vice Chairwoman Lee Mie-kyung. The Seoul Central District Court sentenced Cho to a one-year prison term suspended for two years, finding him guilty of pressuring CJ Group Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik to dismiss Lee under Park’s instructions. 

By Kim So-hyun (
catch table
Korea Herald daum