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Spotlight on Asia
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South Korea's ex-President Park's fall from Blue House to jail

By Rosslyn Hyams

Spotlight on Asia, focuses on the jailing of South Korea's former president 66 year-old Park Geun Hye. Produced and presented by RFi's Rosslyn Hyams with guests John Nilsson-Wright and Noh Jung-sun.

South Korea's first woman president Park Geun-hye, was found guilty of 16 counts of corruption and abuse of power, and fined her close to 100 million euros.

The people of South Korea, more than 50 per cent of who in February 2013 elected the daughter of former late South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee, are divided over the unprecedented sentence, and noisy supporters protested outside the court after her sentence on 6 April 2018.

John Nilsson-Wright, a senior lecturer at Cambridge University in the UK and Senior Research Fellow for Northeast Asia at the Asia Programme at Chatham House, notes that "there's certainly a will and a desire on the part of the current government of president Moon Jae-in, to change the political and economic culture of South Korea.

He was a beneficiary of the candle-lit protests against President Park that led to her impeachment."

While acknowledging that some analysts see corruption and influence peddling as an issue which runs through the various strata of South Korean society, and noting that questions could be asked about the fairness of Park's heavy sentence, he considers "it will send a very powerful signal to other politicians and to corporate Korea."

Click the start arrow to hear more from John Nilsson-Wright and from Korean academic Noh Jung-sun on this issue.

Park's former culture minister, Cho Yoon-sun was jailed for two years in January for her role in drawing up a blacklist of between 9,000 and 10,000 artists seen as critical of Park's government, by criticising her or her late father, or who had voiced support for opposition parties.

The list, included artists in film, theatre, dance, music, fine arts and literature, and included world-renowned personalities including novelist Han Kang, winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize for The Vegetarian, and 2018 contender, and film director Park Chan-wook, whose Oldboy took the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, and the Jury Prize in 2009 for Thirst.

Former President Park had denied she was involved in the blacklist, along with other corruption charges that led to her stiff sentence.

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