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Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye Found Guilty of Corruption

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was jailed for 24 years on Friday for abuse of power and coercion. Park was notorious for operating a blacklist of film industry talent who were denied funding because they had different politics from her conservative views.

A judge at the Central District Court in Seoul gave his verdict and read out a lengthy explanation of the guilty decision. Sentencing was announced later. The judge sentenced Park to prison for 24 years and imposed a fine of $17 million (KRW18 billion). He said that reflected the $22 million (KRW23 billion) that Park and her associate Choi Joon-sil had sought to extort.

Choi, a close friend and secretive advisor of Park, was recently found guilty of using their relationship to extract large sums of money from corporations in return for influencing government policy decisions. The companies, including tech giant Samsung, denied corruption, but now find some of their executives behind bars.

Choi received a 20-year jail sentence. Prosecutors had asked for a 30-year sentence for Park. She has been held in prison since last year and has refused to take part in the judicial process.

The guilty verdict for Park comes in the same week that the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) issued an apology to the entertainment industry for its involvement in the blacklist scheme. New KOFIC chairman Oh Seok-geun said Wednesday that the list had contained more than 10,000 names and that it knew of 56 instances where talent was denied public funding on Park’s orders, and with the active collaboration of KOFIC.

Oh also revealed that the blacklist policy began before Park, under the regime of Lee Myung-bak, who was president between 2008 and 2013. Lee was arrested at the end of March and potentially faces a huge battery of charges that stretch from abuse of power, embezzlement, and bribery, through to tax evasion and election-rigging. Lee has rejected the allegations and says he is the victim of a political revenge plot.

It is currently unknown if any of the charges being prepared by the prosecutor against Lee relate to the film industry blacklist.

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