January 14: South Korea’s Supreme Court has upheld former President Park Geun-hye’s 20-year prison sentence on corruption charges.
Park, 68, was impeached by lawmakers in 2016 after revelations she and a close confidante received millions of dollars in bribes from South Korea’s powerful conglomerates triggered weeks of massive protests demanding her dismissal.
Her impeachment and removal from office was upheld the next year by the Constitutional Court. She was also separately indicted on charges of illegally taking funds from three former intelligence chiefs that were siphoned from the agency’s budget.
Park has also been convicted in a separate case of illegally meddling in her party’s nomination process ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections, which added an additional two-year prison sentence, meaning she could remain in prison until 2039, Voice of America reported.
Park, the daughter of South Korea’s late dictator Park Chung-hee, was elected the country’s first female president in 2013. She has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Her downfall was the latest in a string of convictions involving former South Korean presidents who were mired in scandals either during or after presidencies.
The head of President Moon Jae-in’s ruling Democratic Party has suggested a pardon for Park and Lee Myung-bak, another jailed former president, as a gesture of national unity.