Two ex-presidential aides arrested in South Korea
A court in South Korea has issued arrest warrants for two former aides to President Park Geun-hye for their suspected involvement in a political scandal that has plunged the country in crisis.
In a statement on Sunday, the Seoul Central District Court said that it had granted a warrant to prosecutors to arrest An Chong-bum, a former senior advisor to Park who had already been in custody under an emergency detention order and who now faces charges of abusing power and attempted extortion.
The court also issued an arrest warrant for Jung Ho-sung, another former presidential aide accused of leaking classified information and passing on presidential documents to Choi Soon-sil, whose unconventionally close relationship with Park triggered the scandal.
Eight presidential aides had earlier resigned in connection with the scandal.
Allegations were first reported by media that the 60-year-old Choi manipulated her close ties with the president to persuade local business institutions into donating large sums to foundations run by her.
Choi, who herself was formally detained last week, is also accused of intervening in governmental affairs and having had access to potentially confidential government data despite lacking any official position or a security clearance.
Public outrage over the scandal brought tens of thousands of South Koreans to the streets in the capital on Saturday to demand the resignation of Park.
By some estimates, about 40,000 protesters rallied in Seoul, chanting slogans and carrying banners that read “Park Geun-hye out.” The rallies came only a day after she issued a tearful televised apology over the influence-peddling affair, which has shattered public trust in her leadership.
According to a Gallup Korea survey, the political scandal has sent Park’s approval rating nose-diving to an all-time low of just 5 percent, the lowest ever recorded for any South Korean president.
As many as 70 percent of the respondents to the poll said they wanted Park to step down.