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Ex-Park aide released after serving jail term over corruption scandal

A former aide to ousted President Park Geun-hye was released from prison Friday after serving an 18-month sentence over the massive corruption scandal that saw his boss be stripped of power early last year.

Jeong Ho-seong, a former secretary at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, left the Seoul Southern District Detention Center at about 5 a.m. Friday. He is the first person to have been freed after serving the full sentence out of dozens of others implicated in the influence-peddling and corruption case that removed Park from office in March last year.

The 49-year-old was put behind bars in November 2016 under a presentencing detention and was later charged with leaking state secrets, such as presidential speeches to Choi Soon-sil, an old friend of the former president who's also been jailed over the scandal.  

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

The Supreme Court late last month reaffirmed his 1 1/2-year prison term on the conviction of 14 counts out of 33 he had been charged for by the prosecution.

Wearing a black suit and a slight smile, he exited the prison and expressed mixed feelings.

"I apologize for my shortfall. I should have done better fulfilling my responsibility of serving the former President Park by her side," he told reporters. "Looking back, many things still grieve me. I am out but also not sure if the prison is really here or in there."

Jeong refused to answer questions about Park, who was sentenced to 24 years in prison on April 6, pending an appeal.

Jeong is still undergoing a separate trial without detention over his alleged involvement in the spy agency's alleged illegal provisions of state funds to Park while she was in office.

Jeong and two others -- Lee Jae-man and Ahn Bong-geun -- were considered so close to Park that they were dubbed in the media as the "doorknob trio," a figure of speech implying they were holding the knob of the door leading to Park and that everything must pass through them to reach her.(Yonhap)
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