S. Korea’s Impeached President Claims She Was ‘Framed’ As High-Profile Arrests Continue

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter

Impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye has denied all of the allegations against her, claiming Sunday that she was “set up.”

The president has been accused of colluding with a close friend and confidante to strong-arm companies into donating millions of dollars to questionable organizations for personal gain. Park also allegedly ceded power to and gave her friend access to secure state documents.

Park has kept silent since the Republic of Korea Parliament voted overwhelmingly to impeach her in early December.

“Rumors, stories and broadcasts have been distorted and false information has been getting out of hand,” she told a group of reporters Sunday, “I have never conspired with anyone or did anything to give favors to someone, not even by a bit.”

She said that she was “totally framed.”

Since the scandal broke in October, Park has made several tearful, televised apologies in response to massive citizen protests, some involving more than one million people, calling for her removal from office.

Park has admitted that she consulted her friend on certain presidential speeches and public relations material; however, some observers argue that she was allowed to choose the president’s wardrobe, meddle in state affairs, look through secret documents, and even make high-level government appointments.

The scandal has steadily expanded to include government staff, companies, and citizens.

Major companies, such as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG, have been investigated as a result of the presidential scandal.

Park’s friend Choi Soon-sil was arrested and jailed Nov. 3, several former presidential aides were detained three days later, head of South Korea’s National Pension Service Moon Hyung-pyo was arrested over the weekend, and Choi’s daughter Chung Yoo-ra was arrested early Monday in Denmark following an Interpol request.

Choi was charged with fraud and abuse of power, and her daughter was accused of committing ‘extensive economic crimes.’ Former presidential aides Ahn Jong-beom and Jung Ho-sung were accused of engaging in suspicious financial activities and leaking government documents. Moon is suspected of engaging in illicit activities in a merger involving Samsung.

The president’s scandal has destabilized the South Korean government, which is now being led by acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn.

Park’s fate is in the hands of the Constitutional Court, which has 180 days to either remove Park from power or reinstate her as president.

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