- Title: Timeline explains the unfolding of South Korea's influence-peddling scandal
- Date: 5th January 2017
- Summary: SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (FILE - 2015) (REUTERS) **** WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY **** EXTERIOR OF HYUNDAI AND KIA MOTORS LOGO OF HYUNDAI MOTOR ON TOP OF BUILDING During the scandal, prosecutors have questioned the de facto head of Samsung Group, Jay Y. Lee, and the chairmen of Hyundai Motor Group and Hanjin Group. SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (FILE - NOVEMBER 12, 2016) (REUTERS) PROTESTERS GATHERED FOR RALLY PROTESTERS HOLDING CANDLES AND WAVING FLAGS THE BLUE HOUSE, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENTIAL RESIDENCE PROTESTERS MAKING MEXICAN WAVE WITH CANDLES Park faced mounting pressure to step down as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Seoul every Saturday to demand her resignation, the biggest public demonstrations in South Korea since the 1980s. SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (FILE - NOVEMBER 29, 2016) (REUTERS) PARK AND JOURNALISTS AT NEWS CONFERENCE ROOM PARK SAYING (Korean): "I will leave to parliament everything about my future including shortening of my term." Park made the third televised speech over the scandal on November 29 and asked parliament to find a way for her to give up power and decide when that would happen. The opposition rejected Park's move as a delaying tactic to avoid impeachment. SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (RECENT - DECEMBER 6, 2016) (REUTERS) SOUTH KOREAN CHAIRMAN OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY'S SPECIAL COMMITTEE, KIM SUNG-TAE (FAR LEFT), HITTING GAVEL CHAIRMAN OF CJ GROUP, SOHN KYUNG-SHIK (FAR LEFT), CHAIRMAN OF LG GROUP, KOO BON-MOO (SECOND FROM LEFT), CHAIRMAN OF HANHWA, KIM SEUNG-YEON (THIRD FROM LEFT), CHAIRMAN OF SK GROUP, CHEY TAE-WON (FOURTH FROM LEFT), SAMSUNG GROUP HEIR APPARENT AND VICE CHAIRMAN OF SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS, JAY Y. LEE (THIRD FROM RIGHT), CHAIRMAN AND SECOND SON OF LOTTE GROUP, SHIN DONG-BIN (SECOND FROM RIGHT), CHAIRMAN OF HANJIN GROUP, CHO YANG-HO (FAR RIGHT), SITTING LEE SITTING CHEY (LEFT), LEE (CENTRE), AND SHIN (RIGHT), SITTING Heads of South Korea's top conglomerates including Samsung Group leader, Jay Y. Lee, and Chairman of Hyundai Motor, Chung Mong-koo, testified at parliament hearing on December 6 on whether Park and her friend Choi pressured them to give money to non-profit foundations for preferential treatment. Lee said Samsung Group did not give financial support to foundations in order to get something in return. SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (RECENT - DECEMBER 7, 2016) (REUTERS) KIM SUNG-TAE (THIRD FROM LEFT), AND SOUTH KOREAN MEMBERS OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, SITTING FORMER COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, CHA EUN-TAEK (FAR RIGHT), STANDING AT PODIUM, FORMER HEAD OF KOREA CREATIVE CONTENT AGENCY, SONG SUNG-GAK (FAR LEFT), FORMER SOUTH KOREAN SECOND VICE MINISTER OF CULTURE, SPORTS AND TOURISM, KIM CHONG (SECOND FROM LEFT), FORMER SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENTIAL CHIEF OF STAFF, KIM KI-CHOON (CENTRE), CHOI SOON-SIL'S ACQUAINTANCE, KO YOUNG-TAE (THIRD FROM RIGHT), FORMER SOUTH KOREAN SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS, CHO WON-DONG (SECOND FROM RIGHT), AND WITNESSES, STANDING AND TAKING OATH EMPTY SEATS OF SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT PARK GEUN-HYE'S FRIEND, CHOI SOON-SIL, AND 37-YEAR-OLD NIECE OF CHOI SOON-SIL, CHANG SI-HO / CHARACTERS ON TAGS ON WITNESS TABLE READING (Korean): "WITNESS CHOI SOON-SIL" (BOTTOM), "WITNESS CHANG SI-HO" (TOP) President Park's key aides including former South Korean presidential Chief of Staff, Kim Ki-choon, Former Commercial Director, Cha Eun-taek, and an acquaintance of Park's friend Choi, Ko Young-tae, attended a parliamentary hearing to testify on December 7. Choi, however, did not attend the hearing due to health issues. SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (RECENT - DECEMBER 9, 2016) (REUTERS) SOUTH KOREAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SPEAKER, CHUNG SYE-KYUN (CENTRE), PARLIAMENT OFFICIALS, AND LAWMAKERS SITTING VARIOUS OF LAWMAKERS PUTTING BALLOT PAPER INTO BALLOT BOX (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SPEAKER, CHUNG SYE-KYUN, SAYING: "I announce that the impeachment bill of President Park Geun-hye has passed." PROTESTERS CHEERING AS IMPEACHMENT VOTE RESULT IS ANNOUNCED PROTESTER CHANTING PROTESTERS CHEERING WHILE WATCHING SCREEN SHOWING IMPEACHMENT VOTE RESULT On December 9, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to impeach embattled Park over the scandal, setting the stage for her to become the country's first elected leader to be pushed from office in disgrace. Members of parliament voted by secret ballot with 234 in favour and 56 opposed, meaning dozens of members of Park's own conservative Saenuri Party backed the motion to remove her. At least 200 members of the 300-seat chamber was needed to vote for the motion for it to pass. Outside parliament, a large crowd of demonstrators who had gathered to await the outcome, cheered at the news the motion had passed.
- Embargoed: 20th January 2017 02:26
- Keywords: South Korea influence peddling scandal Park Geun-hye timeline political scandal Choi Soon-sil impeachment President Park scandal
- Location: SEOUL, INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA / AALBORG, DENMARK / HAGEN, GERMANY
- City: SEOUL, INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA / AALBORG, DENMARK / HAGEN, GERMANY
- Country: South Korea
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0075XSZTJ9
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been impeached by parliament over her role in an influence-peddling scandal linked to her friend Choi Soon-sil, and now awaits a Constitutional Court review of that decision.
If upheld it would make her the first democratically-elected South Korean leader to leave office in disgrace.
Park, 64, is accused of colluding with Choi to pressure big businesses including Samsung to make contributions to non-profit foundations backing presidential initiatives.
Park has denied wrongdoing but apologised for carelessness in her ties with Choi, a friend for four decades, who has also denied wrongdoing. Choi is in detention while on trial.
The scandal has drawn hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets of Seoul for weekly demonstrations demanding their president step down immediately.
A South Korean court has issued arrest warrants for two former presidential aides under investigation in the scandal.
Ahn Chong-bum faces charges of abuse of power and attempted extortion. Jeong Ho-seong was arrested on suspicion of leaking classified information.
Park's powers have been suspended and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn took over as acting president after 234 of parliament's 300 members voted to impeach her, meaning more than 60 members of her own party backed the motion against her.
Last month, the heads of nine of the biggest conglomerates, or chaebol, were subjected to an unprecedented 13-hour grilling by a parliamentary panel investigating the scandal. The nine groups have revenue of 910.5 trillion won ($780 billion), equivalent to more than half of South Korea's GDP.
While no executives have been charged with wrongdoing, many have been questioned by investigators and the offices of the Samsung, Lotte and SK groups were raided.
A special prosecutor's investigation into the scandal started last month.
The chairman of the world's third-largest pension fund, the National Pension Service (NPS), Moon Hyung-pyo, was arrested as special prosecutors have been looking into whether he pressured the pension fund to support the $8 billion merger last year of two Samsung Group affiliates.
Choi's daughter Chung Yoo-ra, a 20-year-old equestrian competitor who trained in Germany, is also currently being held in Denmark after police there arrested her on January 2 in the northern city of Aalborg.
South Korean authorities have sought Chung for alleged criminal interference related to her academic record and other unspecified charges.
Arguments at the Constitutional Court began on January 3 and closed shortly thereafter. Arguments will continue on January 5. Park's lawyer has said she will not be attending.
Choi and former presidential aides An and Jeong are expected to appear in the first hearing for arguments at the Seoul Central District Court on Thursday.
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