B.R. Myers Explains the Role South Korean Conservatives Played in the Impeachment of President Park

The always interesting B.R. Myers has an interesting essay posted about the role the Lee Myung-bak conservative right played in the impeachment of fellow conservative President Park Geun-hye:

Not until Park Geun-hye’s presidency (2013-2017) did the issue make a strong comeback. Conservatives in the National Assembly were then roughly divisible into a faction loyal to Park and one loyal to her predecessor Lee Myung Bak. Naturally his followers had learned to like the presidential system during his occupancy of the Blue House (2008-2013), only to find it inherently despotic again the moment Park took over. What really worried them was the likelihood that she would take revenge for the “nomination massacres” that had occurred during Lee’s rule, when he had excluded many of her followers from candidacies in parliamentary elections.

Sure enough, there ensued the “nomination massacre” of spring 2016, in which even some of the most popular pro-Lee or “non-Park” politicians were bypassed for nominations in favor of the president’s people. From then on calls for a parliamentary system grew in intensity until the Lee-conservative press broke the story of the Choi Soon-sil scandal in the autumn of 2016.

It was just what many pols had been waiting for: a chance to get the public so angry about the status quo that it would finally sign off on a whole new system of government. Conservatives were confident they could remove Park with left-wing help without losing the presidency altogether. They would simply make the returning hero Ban Ki-moon their candidate while pushing hard for constitutional revision, then trounce Moon in the election. What could go wrong?  [B.R. Myers]

Well a lot did go wrong if the Lee Myung-Bak supporters thought they could get Ban Ki-moon elected.  He ended up quickly dropping out of the election because of what he said was all the “Fake News” published about him.  It probably was all fake news, but if he can’t fire back against lies in the media he clearly did not have what it took to be the President of South Korea.  Without a strong candidate the Korean right ended up getting trounced in the election now leaving them in a worse position than if Park remained President.

Speaking of fake news I am still curious to who doctored and planted the tablet PC for the media to find?:

JTBC reporter Shim Su-mi reports where and how she found the tablet PC.

The evidence has turned out to be thinner than was initially believed. The tablet PC on which Choi allegedly edited Park’s Dresden speech had so obviously been tampered with that the court did not consider it in Choi’s trial. It is still unclear how Park’s pressuring of businesses to contribute to this or that national team or foundation differed to a criminal degree from established presidential practices. We have to wait and see, but the recent decision to charge her even with meddling in her own party’s nominations suggests a desperation to find things that will stick. While she may well have deserved impeachment by absolute standards, she was probably less deserving of it than a few of her predecessors.

The planting of the tablet PC is the real scandal which no one in the Korean media seems eager to try and uncover. The finding of the tablet is in my opinion what turned the tide against President Park.

Anyway so what happened after President Moon took power?  Well he staffed the Blue House with the same type of people that President Park had around her with hardly a complaint from the media and candlelight protest crowd:

The once bipartisan pretense that removing Park was a non-ideological response to her abuses of power is now upheld only by the right-wing impeachers and the foreign press. Upon his election Moon appointed several Gangnam leftists with records of tax avoidance, real-estate speculation, and the Choi-like pulling of strings on relatives’ behalf. This prompted much use of the crypto-Sinitic compound naero nambul, short for “When I cheat, it’s romance, when others do, it’s adultery.”

I recommend reading the whole essay at the link.

Samsung Heir Released From Jail After Appeals Court Ruling

The only conviction to stick to Lee Jae-yong was sponsoring equestrian training for Choi Soon-sil’s daughter:

The photo shows Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong smiling as he comes out of a courtroom at the Seoul High Court on Feb. 5, 2018, after he was released on a suspended sentence over bribery in connection with a corruption scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye. (Yonhap)

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was released Monday after an appellate court handed him a suspended sentence dismissing most of the key charges against him in a bribery and corruption scandal that led to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye last year.

The Seoul High Court sentenced Lee to 2 1/2 years in prison with a stay of execution for four years. He was immediately freed from a nearly yearlong incarceration.

Two former group executives were also released on suspended sentences. They were given four-year jail terms by the lower court.

Lee, 50, was arrested on Feb. 17, 2017 on five charges, including bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.

A lower court sentenced him to five years in prison, on Aug. 25, for giving 8.8 billion won (US$8.1 million) in bribes to Park and her confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in return for government backing of the merger of two key Samsung units, a process that was deemed vital to tighten Lee’s control of South Korea’s biggest conglomerate. The prosecution had demanded 12 years in prison for Lee.

But the appeals court acknowledged as bribes only some 3.6 billion won which Samsung sent to Choi’s German-based firm to sponsor the equestrian training of her daughter, Chung Yoo-ra.

The court found Lee “passively” complied with Park’s request to sponsor the former dressage rider after he was apparently intimidated by Park and Choi.  [Yonhap]

Here is the strangest thing about the court ruling:

But the appeals court acknowledged as bribes only some 3.6 billion won which Samsung sent to Choi’s German-based firm to sponsor the equestrian training of her daughter, Chung Yoo-ra.

The court found Lee “passively” complied with Park’s request to sponsor the former dressage rider after he was apparently intimidated by Park and Choi.

What did former President Park tell him that was so intimidating that is what I want to know?

Former President Park Reportedly “Regretful” that She Was Fooled By Choi Soon-sil

Here is the latest update on the status of ex-ROK President Park Geun-hye who continues to be jailed despite not being convicted of anything:

Yoo Yeong-ha

Former President Park Geun-hye, currently facing a criminal trial for conspiring with her friend to receive bribes from conglomerates, is extremely regretful that she was fooled by her longtime confidante, Park’s onetime defense lawyer said Wednesday.

Park was indicted in April 2017 for having abused her power to receive bribes from conglomerates by conspiring with her friend, Choi Soon-sil.

The former president is also charged with leaking confidential information to Choi. She has been boycotting the trial since October, describing the accusations as “political retaliation.”

All her lawyers, including a longtime associate, Yoo Yeong-ha, resigned from the case to protest a judge’s decision to extend her detention to April 2018.

In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, Yoo spoke for the first time about the case and his client. It was Yoo’s first media interview since Park was impeached and ousted from presidency in March of last year. The interview took place on Wednesday, and the JoongAng Ilbo published it in Friday’s edition.

Yoo said Park had not known about Choi’s alleged illicit activities when she was president. “The National Intelligence Service, police and the presidential senior secretary for civil affairs never briefed her about Choi,” Yoo said. “She said it is unfortunate that no one informed her about Choi’s activities.”

Park was indicted in April for alleged crimes committed during her failed presidency. Prosecutors said Park, in collusion with Choi, received massive bribes from conglomerates through two cultural and sports foundations Choi practically controlled. Samsung’s contributions to the foundations and generous sponsorship of equestrian training for Choi’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, were described as bribes, and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was also indicted for offering or promising the president a total of 43.3 billion won ($40.7 million).

Yoo said Park is firm on three key issues surrounding her charges. “Park is firm that she never heard from Choi that Samsung Group offered support for Choi’s daughter’s equestrian training,” Yoo said. “Park is also firm that she never asked Samsung Vice Chairman Lee to support Choi and her daughter. She also stands firm that she never ordered An Chong-bum, then senior economic affairs secretary, to create foundations.”

Regarding the newly added charges that Park had misappropriated the funds of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and used the money for private purposes, Yoo said the former leader is also innocent on this count. Earlier this month, the prosecution said Park had used 1.5 billion won of misappropriated NIS funds for private affairs, including beauty treatments.

Yoo had visited Park at the Seoul Detention Center after the new charges were added. Speculation was high that Yoo would be rehired, but Park ultimately did not retain him.

“At the beginning of her term, Park was briefed that the Blue House of the previous administrations had received money from the NIS and used it, and there is no legal problem involving the practice,” Yoo said. “She therefore told her officials to do business as usual. She never received any report about spending the NIS money.”

Yoo added, “It’s also not true that Park used the NIS money for private affairs. A president has their own special-activities account. There’s no reason for her to use the NIS money.”

Yoo also said it is unfair to hold Park accountable for the administration’s creation and operation of a blacklist of liberal artists to oppress them and cut their funding just because she was briefed about a plan.

“She doesn’t seem to recall any specific order,” Yoo said. “If you argue that she made a tacit order for something just because she received a briefing about it, it means that presidents will be linked to all sorts of crimes in the future. No administration will be safe, if you use that logic.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but on this issue I have yet to see the evidence that Park ever accepted a bribe or knew what Choi was up to.  If this all ends up being smoke and mirrors to get her out of office this is going to cause a precedent that whenever the conservatives take power they will legally go after liberal presidents for real or imagined reasons as well.

Former President Park Now Being Accused of Accepting Bribes from the National Intelligence Service

This is a bombshell of an accusation if true:

Prosecutors said Wednesday they will indict ousted President Park Geun-hye on additional bribery charges as early as this week over allegations that during her term Park took bribes from the state spy agency.

An official from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said that prosecutors are also considering “gradually pressing charges against the others involved.”

Prosecutors have been investigating allegations that the National Intelligence Service (NIS), South Korea’s main spy agency, provided Park with up to 200 million won (US$188,000) in kickbacks every month between May 2013 and July 2016.

Prosecutors suspect that the NIS paid Park around 3.8 billion won in total and that she used those funds personally or to carry out illicit political activities.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but if President Park was receiving that much money every month as a bribe from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) then she needs to receive jail time.  With that said I would love to see what this evidence is because the evidence of all her other supposed crimes has not been very forthcoming during this whole legal process she is going through.

Picture of the Day: Park Geun-hye Supporters Rally in Seoul

Supporters of ex-President Park Geun-hye

A group of supporters of former President Park Geun-hye stages a rally on a street in Seoul on Nov. 14, 2017, demanding the release of Park who has been on trial for alleged bribery and a few other charges for the past several months after her impeachment. (Yonhap)

Former President Park is Claiming “Political Persecution” and Human Rights Violations Over Continuing Detention and Trial

According to the Korea Times there is a bunch of mounting evidence against former ROK President Park Geun-hye proving she is corrupt has been found:

Ousted former President Park Geun-hye, who is on trial over massive corruption allegations, seems to be seeking sympathy from international society by claiming she is suffering from “political persecution.”

The change of strategy may have come because she is unlikely to get a favorable verdict in the trial, with her detention being extended recently for another six months.

But it seems unclear whether her playing the victim of political retaliation will work, because more and more evidence unfavorable to her is being found, and she has already faced strong criticism for denying all the allegations and attempting to cover them up.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but I would love to see a roll up of this evidence and how Park ordered a cover up.  I have yet to see a definitive roll up of the evidence just accusations in the media.  Maybe at some point we will see the evidence that proves she is corrupt.

Here is probably the statement that concerned me the most in the article:

Rep. Park Beom-kye also said she has four to six times as much space as other inmates, has enough furniture and received outside medical treatment at a hospital twice. “She can also receive treatment inside the prison any time she wants. The claim (of human rights violations) is unreasonable,” he said.

“She committed very serious crimes but she and the MH Group are likely to package her as a victim of political retaliation.”

The cell conditions I am less concerned about then the fact that Representative Park Beom-kye has already declared her guilty with no presumption of innocence until proven guilty.  That just feeds into Park Geun-hye’s claims that this is a political persecution.

Former President Park Says Ongoing Trial and Detention is “Political Revenge”

Considering how long this has dragged out I am still waiting for the definitive evidence that Park Geun-hye was helping Choi Soon-sil shake people down for money for her daughter’s equestrian training.  Until the definitive evidence is shown then Park has a point that this is “political revenge”.

Former President Park Geun-hye leaves the courtroom after attending a hearing at the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul, Monday. / Yonhap

Former President Park Geun-hye said Monday that she has “lost faith” in the nation’s justice system, claiming she is nothing but a victim of political revenge.

Her remarks came during a hearing at the Seoul Central District Court after it decided last week to extend her detention for another six months.

“I was supposed to be released today,” she said during the hearing at the court. “But the court issued another arrest warrant ... I can’t accept its decision.”

In protest of the decision, her lawyers resigned the same day.

“My lawyers and I felt helpless,” she said. “I have lost faith that the court will do a fair job in accordance with the Constitution and conscience.”

This was the first time she has spoken publicly since her trial began six months ago. After being ousted and arrested in March over a massive influence-peddling scandal involving her friend Choi Soon-sil, she barely said anything except yes or no whenever cameras were around.

Park insisted on her innocence, saying, “I did not comply with requests to favor anyone while in office. She also claimed the trial has shown that various suspicions surrounding her are false.

Then, in an apparent message aimed at President Moon Jae-in, the rival candidate she beat in the 2012 presidential election, and his governing Democratic Party of Korea, Park claimed she is just a victim of political strife.

“I hope I will be the last victim of political revenge in the name of the rule of law,” she said.

“The last six months have been a horrible and miserable time for me. I had trust in a person who later betrayed me. As a result, I have lost my honor and everything else in life.”  [Korea Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but the Korean left has been going after former conservative President Lee Myung-bak as well to get him thrown in jail.  The Korean left has longed blamed conservatives for uncovering former President Roh Moo-hyun’s corruption which led to his suicide shortly after his presidency.

Former President Park’s Detention Extended for Additional Bribery Accusations

More corruption charges have come up against former President Park claiming she was receiving kickbacks from SK and Lotte in order to get a new warrant to keep her detained for up to six more months:

A Seoul court on Friday extended the detention of former President Park Geun-hye who stands trial in a massive corruption case that led to her ouster early this year.

The Seoul Central District Court approved an additional arrest warrant for Park, acknowledging that she may destroy evidence.

The fresh warrant allows authorities to keep her in detention for another six months, until April 16, 2018. Her initial arrest warrant was due to expire Monday. Prosecutors made the request late last month saying more time is needed to finish court procedures.

Given the gravity of the case and public concern, the prosecution has said it plans to finish the remaining court interrogations of witnesses before the end of this year to speed up the pace.

The court has held 80 trial sessions for Park’s case since May — four sessions every week since June.

She was removed from office and arrested in March on charges of bribery and abuse of power. She stands accused of colluding with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil in taking some 43 billion won (US$37 million) from top conglomerates, including Samsung, and letting her friend meddle in state affairs.

The additional warrant has been issued based on the charges that were not included in the first warrant, in which the prosecution accused Park of taking or demanding kickbacks from two other conglomerates — SK and Lotte.  [Yonhap]

Blue House Attempting to Keep Former President Park Imprisoned By Bringing Back Sewol Allegations

Is it just me or is the detention of former President Park really beginning to stink with the Blue House suddenly finding documents in regards to the Sewol tragedy to hopefully keep her imprisoned?  I thought they had all this evidence of her corruption to keep her imprisoned?:

Presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok shows the enlarged documents from the former Park Geun-hye administration that have allegedly been manipulated to falsify the time of the first report to Park on the Sewol ferry sinking in a press briefing held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Oct. 12, 2017. (Yonhap)

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday that it has found documents from the former administration that show the former president may have lied about her role in dealing with the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry three years ago.

The documents, found in the crisis management office at Cheong Wa Dae, included a daily journal from the office drafted April 16, 2014, when the passenger ferry sank in waters off the country’s western coast, killing more than 300 people, according to Im Jong-seok, the presidential chief of staff.

Im said the daily log showed the first report of the accident was made to then-President Park Geun-hye at 9:30 a.m., instead of at 10 a.m., as earlier claimed by the ousted leader and her aides.

The Cheong Wa Dae official said the document was revised Oct. 23, 2014, to say the first report was made at 10 a.m.

“The reason they pushed back the time of the first report to the president by half an hour appears to have been an attempt to reduce the time between the first report and Park’s first order, said to have been made at around 10:15 a.m.,” Im said at a press briefing, apparently suggesting a 45-minute gap between the first report and the first order would have aggravate criticism for her inaction during the accident that left 304 people dead.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.