South Korea arrests Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun over blacklist of anti-Park artists

January 21, 2017 10:00 am

’s Culture Minister (C) arrives at court for a hearing to review the issuing of her arrest warrant at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul on Jan. 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

South ’s culture minister has been detained for her suspected role in preparing a blacklist of some 10,000 artists and writers that were critical of the nation’s impeached President Park Geun-hye.
Cho Yoon-sun was taken into custody Saturday on charges of depriving the artists of state subsidies and private investments as well as placing them under government surveillance, the Yonhap agency reported.
Cho’s arrest came after the Seoul Central District Court issued a warrant for her arrest after a request by prosecutors, alleging that she engaged in abuse of authority and perjury.
She became the first sitting minister ever to be detained, the special prosecutor’s team probing the scandal said.
The court also issued an arrest warrant for Kim Ki-choon, a powerful former chief of staff for the impeached president, on charges of ordering Cho to prepare the list of “left-leaning” artists in the field of film, theater, music, the fine arts and literature.

This picture taken on January 20, 2017 shows Kim Ki-choon (C) arriving at court for a hearing to review the issuing of his arrest warrant at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul. (Photo by AFP)

Many artists on the list had either supported opposition parties or censured and mocked the administrations of Park or her late father, who despotically ruled the country from 1961 to 1979.
The presidential office, however, denies the existence of the blacklist. The culture minister has stated many times that she had heard reports of such a list but that she had nothing to do with it.
Prosecutors had questioned Cho and Kim as part of their investigation into a wider political scandal involving Park and her secret confidante Choi Soon-sil, who is also on trial for abuse of power and coercion.
However, the court earlier in the week turned down a prosecution request for the arrest of Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong — who stands accused of bribing Choi in a bid to win governmental favors — citing lack of evidence.
South Korea has been in crisis for months and Park could become the first democratically-elected leader to be forced out of office if her impeachment by parliament is upheld by the Constitutional Court.
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