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South Korea's Park Denies Corruption Allegations

  • VOA News

South Korean President Park Geun-hye speaks during a meeting with reporters at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, in this handout picture provided by the Presidential Blue House and released by Yonhap, Jan. 1, 2017.

South Korea's impeached president held a rare meeting with reporters Sunday to deny allegations that she colluded with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil to extort money and favors from Korean conglomerates.

It was the first time Park has spoken to the media since being impeached by parliament on December 9.

She told the selected reporters the charges against her were "fabrication and falsehood" and that she was "completely framed."

"The matter is under investigation, so I can't make detailed explanations that might put both sides in trouble, but what I can assure you is that I have never conspired with anyone or did anything to give favors to someone, not even by a bit," Park said, according the minutes of the meeting that were provided by her office.

Park has apologized numerous times and has maintained the actions she took were in the national interest. She insists she never personally benefited from her 18 years of public service.

FILE - A man walks by a bus stop displayed with posters depicting impeached South Korea's President Park Geun-hye in pink manipulating three of her aides while she is also manipulated as a marionette by her jailed confidante Choi Soon-sil, seen above Park's left
FILE - A man walks by a bus stop displayed with posters depicting impeached South Korea's President Park Geun-hye in pink manipulating three of her aides while she is also manipulated as a marionette by her jailed confidante Choi Soon-sil, seen above Park's left

The president's image as a strong and incorruptible leader crumbled under allegations her longtime friend, Choi, secretly exploited her close relationship with Park to force Korean conglomerates to donate nearly $65 million to two dubious foundations, while at the same time funneling some of the funds and lucrative side contracts to companies owned by herself and her friends.

Choi is currently detained while on trial.

The Constitutional Court is reviewing the impeachment motion, a process that can take up to six months. If the court affirms, a new presidential election will be scheduled within two months of the ruling.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn assumed the rule as government caretaker after Park was impeached.

On Tuesday, 29 legislators split from South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party over the corruption scandal. The lawmakers established a new party, unofficially named the New Conservative Party for Reform, that will launch on January 24.

The new party hopes to win the support of conservative voters who are displeased with the ruling party before the next presidential election. As part of the effort, the new party may try to convince outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to be its presidential candidate.

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