South Korean ex-leader’s confidante jailed for three years


SEOUL — Choi Soon-sil, the friend involved in the corruption scandal which brought down former South Korean president Park Geun-hye, was jailed on Friday for three years, the news agency Yonhap reported.

Seoul Central District Court found Choi guilty of obstruction of duty by using her ties to Park to put pressure on a university to give favors to her daughter, including grades for exams she never took.

The sentence is the first to be handed to Choi in connection with the corruption scandal, in which she and Park are also accused of colluding to extort money from top South Korean companies.

Choi Kyung-hee, the former president of Ewha Womans University, and Namkung Gon, the university’s former head of admissions, were also jailed for two years and 1 and half years respectively for their role in the affair.

The court said Choi had also colluded with the officials to get them to admit her daughter Chung Yoo Ra, now 21.

Chung, a professional equestrian, was extradited from Denmark last month over her alleged involvement in the affair.

Choi, 61, still faces many other charges, including taking bribes worth 7.8 billion won (US$6.85 million) from electronics giant Samsung.

Samsung heir and vice president Lee Jae-yong was arrested in February and charged with bribery and perjury.

Park, who was impeached in December and is currently on trial for bribery, coercion, abuse of power and leaking state secrets, is also accused of allowing Choi to meddle in official government business, despite not holding any office.