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S. Korea's embattled president rejects accusations of misconduct

President Park Geun-hye has distanced herself from her scandal-ridden confidant, saying she was an "acquaintance." The constitutional court has six months to decide whether to reinstate her or remove her permanently.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Sunday denied allegations that she conspired with a longtime friend to extort money and favors from companies, saying the accusation against her were "fabrication and falsehood."

"The matter is under investigation, so I can't make detailed explanations that might put both sides in trouble, but what I can assure you is that I have never conspired with anyone or did anything to give favors to someone, not even by a bit," Park told a group of selected reporters, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Park's presidency has been rocked by a political scandal involved her Choi Soon-sil, a confidant she has known for decades. 

However, Park told reporters that Choi was "merely an acquaintance."

Authorities arrested Choi in November for allegedly pressuring South Korean companies to donate to her private foundations and meddling in state affairs, although she has denied the accusations.

Reinstate or out?

In December, parliament impeached Park amid mounting public pressure, making her the first South Korean president to face the process.

The Constitutional Court has six months to decide whether to uphold the impeachment and permanently remove her or reinstate her. The court added that Park cannot be forced to testify at her impeachment trial.

Park has apologized several times for her carelessness surrounding her ties with Choi, but denies any wrongdoing. Since the political sandal erupted in November, the president has witnessed her approval ratings drop to historical lows, sinking under five percent.

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ls/rc (Reuters, AP)

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