You may not have heard about this unless you have been following the Korean news online. You certainly wouldn’t find anything about it in the crap blogs that think the only interesting things going on in Korea are k-pop and couple t-shirts.
But this is really worth paying attention to. It concerns Geun-Hye’s advisor,Choi Soon-gil, who is said to have had access to private documents since the start of her presidency. The Presdient has apologised:
“Regardless of the reasons involved, I am sorry that (the scandal) has caused national concerns,” Park said. “I deeply apologize to the people.”
But the scandal continues. Ever since Park became President she has provoked a backlash against her increasingly right wing politics. But people have finally had enough. The affair, known as ‘Choi Soon-sil gate;’, concerns the woman who has had access to all the President’s information including speeches she has made; and the woman’s daughter. It has assailed the President and has seen her approval rating plummet to her lowest level for the second week running.
The accusations are that Park set up two non-for profit organisations that became her personal piggy bank. The other scandal concerns Yoo-ra Chung, Choi’s daughter. the dressage athlete attended Ehwa university and passed all her exams. The catch? She never sat any exams. As a result, the Dean of the college sat down, the first time this has happened in its 150 year history. Yoo-ra and her mother have been living in Germany where Korean journalists are still tracking their whereabouts.This picture shows a group of student protesters showing their anger at the scandal:
As the financial Times reported on Friday, President Park is facing the biggest challenge to her presidency. The allegations are that two of her closest advisers forced donations from two of the largest conglomerates into non-profit organisations.
Her approval ratings are now at 26%, the lowest since she became President in 2013. It’s claimed that Park’s long-time confidant Ms Choi masterminded the creation of the Mir and K-Sports foundations, they have collected about Won80bn ($72m) from 53 companies in just a few months. It took a single day to approve their creation — unusually fast for South Korea — and they have won bids for big public projects despite their lack of relevant experience.
It’s all part of the wider picture of crony capitalism, which sees family run businesses -known as chaebols – dominating the major industries. They are often run like feudal dynasties, with positions handed down from father to son, or to wife, daughter, common law partner. For example, the corporate giant Lotte has been run by the same family since its inception in 1953, and all the major positions are filled by relatives of founder Shin Kyuk-Ho. Two of his sons hold key roles in the South Korea’s fifth largest conglomerate.
Lawyers have charged the CEO of Lotte group and four of his family members with tax evasion, embezzlement and illegal business ideals worth hundred of millions of dollars.
If convicted, Mr Shin could face up to a year in prison but would probably be given a presidential pardon, which has freed many jailed executives in the past.
Lotte was founded in Tokyo in 1948 but has most of its operations are in South Korea. Most South Korean politicians are directly related to politicians who were members of the government which supported Japanese occupation. For example, President Park is the daughter of the dictator Chung Hee, who was assassinated in 1979. He was opposed to allowing democracy and frequently crushed student protests. His daughter has been criticised for mishandling the Sewol ferry disaster and for limiting freedom of speech, which means that access to the internet has been restricted and websites censored.
Whatever happens to the Lotte President, people in this wonderful country deserve much better from their government and the people who run major companies.
The first ‘scandal’ concerns Kim Min Hee’s affair with the much older and married director Hang Sang Soo (Ha Ha Ha). Ever since the affair was confirmed, the actress has suffered negative publicity with many refusing to watch her films in the cinema. The situation has become so bad that she has been forced to leave Korea for America, where it has been confirmed that she married the director in July this year; depsite the director still technically being married to his first wife. I know, crazy!
Sadly, all this fuss and scandal is detracting from what an amazing actress she is, especially with her recent turn in Park Chan Wook’s Agassi ( soon to be shown in London as part of the LEAFF).
I bet people pour more hate and scorn on the women in these affairs, without accepting that the men are hardly innocent themselves. In the case of Sang Soo, his own wife has denied that her husband has actually left her and maintains that they are still married. She released a statement confirming
“I will never divorce him. I’m going to wait for him until I die. I still love my husband, and he loved me too. Everyone around us knows how family-oriented my husband is. I’m being hopeful. My husband will return to me.”
The situation became even more tangled when the mother of Kim left a message to the director’s wife saying it was harder to be the mother of a woman who had fallen in love with a married man than to be the woman whose husband had left her.
Scandal number 2 concerns actor Kyung Ku. The great Korean actor left his wife in 2006 and married Song Yun-ahin 2009.
However, many fans blamed his new wife for the marriage break-up, claiming she was a home wrecker. The online abuse directed at the couple became so bad that they eventually filed a lawsuit against 57 website users for defamatory statements made about them on internet forums. This was despite the fact that the actor made clear that the actress had no effect on his marriage breaking up. Most people didn’t believe it and the actor now has a reputation for questionable moral standards.
I guess it’s easy to judge people but much harder if you have to experience these situations first hand. My feeling is that people in South Korea have higher standards when it comes to marriage and the treatment of anyone who threatens marital stability is usually harsh. Still, it could be worth pointing out once in a while that celebrities are normal people just like everybody else.