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Asia Minute: South Korean President Faces Political Scandal

Republic of Korea / Flickr
Republic of Korea / Flickr

There are new developments today in a politically charged case featuring leaked emails and allegations of influence peddling.  This has nothing to do with the U.S. presidential election—it’s a story from South Korea. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s approval rating has cratered to an all-time low of just 17 and a half percent.  That’s a tumble of more than 10 percentage points in two days—and half the level of support she had just a month ago.  It’s the latest development in a dramatic case involving allegations of influence peddling and meddling in government affairs by a long-time friend of hers.

Earlier this week, President Park apologized that she “caused concern to the people of our nation.”  Park says her friend Chay Soon Shill helped edit some of her speeches and offered public relations advice….although she is not a government employee.  Media reports say email exchanges between the two contained nearly 200 presidential documents—some of which may have included classified information.

Critics allege Chay used her connections to the president to solicit tens of millions of dollars from companies for two nonprofit foundations….a charge she denies.  Prosecutors in raided nine locations in Seoul on Wednesday…searching for evidence in the case.  A survey by a firm called Realmeter found 42% of those polled said Park should resign or face impeachment.  The story is also touching financial markets…as the South Korean won dipped to close to a 4-month low.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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