SEOUL – Former South Korea president Park Geun-hye appeared at Seoul’s Central District Prosecutor’s Office on Monday for questioning over a corruption scandal which led to her impeachment earlier this month.
Park, who continues to maintain her innocence, arrived to face prosecutors’ questions for the first time since losing her immunity after a South Korean court upheld a parliamentary ruling made in December 2016.
She briefly spoke to the reporters gathered at the building, apologizing to citizens, and promising to respond sincerely to the investigation.
The former president faces 13 charges, including bribery and abuse of power, in a case that has divided the nation.
Park, 65, arrived shortly before 9:30 am local time (0030 GMT), after a convoy of police and bodyguards escorted her from her home where hundreds of well-wisher had gathered to express their support.
Park lost her immunity from prosecution on March 10 after the Constitutional Court approved her impeachment due to her involvement in the “Rasputin” corruption scandal and its main person of interest, Choi Soon-sil, who is a long-time friend of the president.
Choi is accused of using her position and close relationship with Park to extort South Korean companies in exchange for favorable government treatment.
The corruption scandal has led to widespread protests and has triggered early elections for the first time since 1987, when the country held free direct democratic polls for the first time.
It is also the first time a South Korean head of state has been dismissed.
A total of 30 people have been charged so far in the scandal which involves 53 companies, including conglomerates such as LG, Hyundai and Samsung, whose de facto president Lee Jae-yong is being held and tried for allegedly approving bribes to foundations allegedly created and controlled by Choi.