President Park reshuffles S Korean cabinet amid scandal

View of a sign being held up to the night sky by a protester in central Seoul, South Korea, 31 October 2016.Image copyright

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Demands for the president to step down have crossed political divides

South Korea’s president has named a new prime minister and finance minister amid a scandal that threatens to bring down her administration.

Park Geun-hye has come under attack over the actions of her old friend and mentor Choi Soon-sil.

On Monday, Ms Choi was detained by police, accused of influence peddling and interfering in state affairs.

Eight banks have also been raided in connection with the scandal, South Korean media reported.

Critics say Ms Choi used her closeness to the president to solicit corporate money for foundations she ran, as well as embezzling state funds and directing presidential decisions, despite a lack of office, expertise or security clearance.

The scandal has prompted widespread anger.

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Protesters suggest President Park Geun-hye (bottom) is a puppet of Choi Soon-sil

Kim Byong-joon, a senior presidential secretary under a previous administration, was named as prime minister to replace Hwang Kyo-ahn. The role of prime minister is largely symbolic in South Korea, where power is concentrated in the presidency.

Yim Jong-yong, currently Financial Services Commission chairman, was named as the new finance minister and deputy prime minister, replacing Yoo Il-ho.

A new minister of public safety and security has also been appointed in the reshuffle.

Who is Choi Soon-sil?

  • The daughter of shadowy religious cult leader, Choi Tae-min, who was Ms Park’s mentor until his death in 1994
  • She became friends with Ms Park after the assassination of her father, the then President Park Chung-hee
  • Ms Choi, 60, has a 20-year-old daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, a female dressage rider who competed at the 2014 Asian Games

Could a friendship topple a president?

President Park reshuffles S Korean cabinet amid scandal}

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