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South Korea

South Korean prosecutors will question president over political scandal: report

Following mass protests, prosecutors have reportedly notified President Park Geun-hye of their intentions to question her. Park has been rocked by a deepening political scandal involving a shadowy longtime confidante.

South Korean prosecutors have notified President Park Geun-hye's office of their plans to question her over a deepening political scandal involving a longtime confidante, a media report said on Sunday.

"We need to question the president Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest," an official with the Seoul prosecutor's office was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

The official added that prosecutors were waiting for the president's reply. If she agrees, Park will become the first South Korean president in modern history to be questioned by prosecutors while in office.

Park's presidency has been rocked by a political scandal surrounding her ties with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.

Police arrested Choi earlier this month. She stands accused of using her close ties to the president to influence state affairs and direct millions of dollars in donations to nonprofit organizations under her control, which she allegedly used for personal benefit.

Earlier this month, Park said she would allow a direct investigation into her actions, adding that she relied on Choi for undefined "public relations" issues.


Thousands of South Koreans have taken to the streets in weekly protests since the scandal erupted in October.

On Saturday, up to 1 million people rallied in Seoul, according to organizers' figures. Many of them held placards demanding the president resign immediately.

"I'm here to demand Park Geun-hye's resignation. Her apologies are meaningless. She needs to step down," said 66-year-old Cho Ki-mang, one of the protesters.

Investigations continue

Prosecutors on Saturday questioned Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and heir-apparent to the Samsung group.

The electronics manufacturer reportedly donated the largest amount to Choi's nonprofit foundations, amounting to more than $15 million (13.8 million euros). It may have also bankrolled equestrian training in Germany for Choi's daughter, providing an additional $3.1 million (2.8 million euros).

Authorities have also investigated the senior executives at South Korea's car manufacturer Hyundai Motor and carrier Korean Air Lines.

Authorities have until November 20 to formally charge Choi under South Korea's criminal litigation law.

ls/tj (AFP, Reuters)