At the center of the scandal that toppled Ms. Park's government is the accusation that she and Choi Soon-sil, an old friend and confidant, collected or demanded large bribes from three large companies, including Samsung, the largest family in the country. controlled conglomerate Separately, the two women were accused of forcing 18 businesses to make donations worth $ 72 million to two foundations controlled by Ms. Choi.
The same court that handled Ms. Park's case called her and Ms. Choi criminal conspirators when she sentenced Ms. Choi to 20 years in prison on February 13 for bribery, extortion and other criminal charges .
Ms. Park has apologized with tears in the eyes of the public, cutting ties with Ms. Choi and insisting that she was unaware of her friend's alleged influence-peddling activities. His lawyers also appealed for leniency, arguing that the money raised from the big companies was not used for their personal benefit. Some of the alleged bribes taken from Samsung were used to fund the equestrian activities of Ms. Choi's daughter.
Mrs. Park's removal from office – he replaced it as president by liberal politician Moon Jae-in- represented a major setback for his once dominant conservative party. Locked in jail, since then she has slowly withdrawn from public discourse. The old conservatives who represent their most ardent supporters deeply distrust Mr. Moon, a progressive who is considered pro-North Korean, but who enjoys public approval ratings of around 70 percent.
Ms. The Park scandal has revived the public's anger for a long time about the extensive ties between the government and the family-run conglomerates known as chaebol. The case also led to the arrest of Lee Jae-yong, the de facto head of Samsung.
Last August, Mr. Lee, the vice president of smartphone maker Samsung Electronics and the third-generation offspring of the family that runs the Samsung conglomerate, was sentenced to five years in prison for offering $ 6.7 million in bribes to Ms. Choi and Ms. Park. But he was released from prison in February, after an appellate court ruled that the bribes had amounted to only $ 3.3 million, and consequently reduced his prison sentence by half and suspended the sentence.
Mr. Moon, in addition to calling for easing tensions and promoting dialogue with North Korea, has also vowed to eradicate corrupt relations between politics and business.
Almost all presidents of South Korea have seen their reputation tarnished towards the end of their term or during their retirement due to corruption scandals involving them, their relatives or aides.
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