S. Korean President To Address Nation Over Scandal

S. Korean president to address nation over scandal

SEOUL, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 03rd Nov, 2016 ) - South Korean President Park Geun-Hye is set to address the nation Friday over a snowballing political scandal that saw her close friend arrested for corruption and sparked calls for her resignation. Park will deliver the public address -- her second since the scandal broke last month -- on Friday morning, her spokesman said. The announcement came shortly after a Seoul court formally approved an arrest warrant for Choi Soon-Sil, Park's close friend facing charges of fraud and abuse of power.

Choi, who has been held in emergency detention since Monday, is accused of coercing local firms to donate large sums to dubious non-profit foundations that she then used for personal gain. Prosecutors had deemed her a flight risk and "unstable". Choi, daughter of a late religious figure who was a longtime mentor for Park, also faces allegations that she meddled with state affairs including nomination of senior officials. The shock scandal sparked nationwide protests urging Park's resignation, with prosecutors mulling launching a formal probe.

If realised it would be the country's first investigation of an incumbent president. Under South Korea's constitution, the incumbent president may not be charged with a criminal offence except insurrection or treason. But many argue the sitting president can be probed by prosecutors and then charged after leaving office. Justice Minister Kim Hyun-Woong also told parliament Thursday that prosecutors could question Park, if the ongoing investigation required it.

The ongoing probe also targets firms -- including samsung and SK -- that offered donations to foundations favoured by Choi, and a Samsung executive was questioned by prosecutors Thursday, Yonhap added. Samsung -- by far the South's largest business conglomerate -- faces allegations that it separately offered millions of Euros to Choi to bankroll her daughter's equestrian training in Germany. The scandal has shaken the presidency, exposing Park to public outrage and ridicule and, with just over a year left in office, seen her approval ratings plunge into single digits. In an effort to deflect rising public criticism, Park had been urged to create a neutral cabinet by bringing in members from outside her ruling conservative Saenuri Party.