A corruption scandal, that had gripped South Korea for years, has ended, confirming what Denning had once said so famously ~ “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”.
The Supreme Court has upheld former President Park Geun-hye’s 20-year prison sentence following her conviction in a bribery case of 2018. The charges related to massive influence-peddling that provoked widespread protests and had implicated the country’s most powerful figures. She was removed from office in 2017.
The initial sentence of 24 years was reduced to 20 years last July following a retrial. This effectively ends Park’s legal options to appeal her sentence. She will have to serve 22 years behind bars for she additionally faces a two-year prison term for a 2018 conviction for meddling in the nomination of candidates for Saenuri Party, a conservative political party previously led by her.
“This is the conclusion of a state corruption affair which follows the people’s candlelight revolution, impeachment by the Assembly, and a judicial ruling. It is a manifestation of our democratic republic’s constitutional spirit and signifies advancement and maturity of Korean democracy,” South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement Thursday.
“We must make sure to take this unfortunate event ~ the imprisonment of the former President ~ as a historical lesson and avoid repeating it.”
Neither Park’s rarefied office nor gender had any bearing on the overall construct. The daughter of the former dictator, Park Chung-hee, Park Geun-hye became South Korea’s first woman President in 2013. Her term was mired in controversy. In 2017, she became the country’s first democratically elected leader to be forcibly removed from office after the country’s Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary vote to impeach her. Her career has, therefore, been on a roller-coaster ever since she took over as President.
The parliamentary vote came after millions of South Koreans took to the streets over several months to demand her ouster, after revelations emerged about undue influence wielded by her adviser and confidant, Choi Soon-sil, the daughter of a cult leader. Shortly after Park was stripped of her office, she was arrested and put on trial for soliciting bribes from major conglomerates in the country, including Samsung.
In 2018, she went on trial over separate accusations that she received illicit funds from the National Intelligence Service. Several others were also implicated in the scandal which had almost institutionalised corruption.
In 2018, Park’s confidant Choi was sentenced to 20 years in jail on 18 charges including abuse of power, coercion, fraud and bribe, and was fined $16.6 million. South Korea has sent a powerful message to the world, that no one is above the law.