10/31/2016, 10.02
SOUTH KOREA
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The "Rasputin of Korea" returns over President Park speech scandal

Choi Soon-sil, 60, has been a friend and confidant of the Park since her mother’s murder in 1974. Choi ‘s father was an ambiguous character, first a Buddhist monk, then Christian pastor, then a leader of a church he founded. Demonstrations in Seoul and Busan blaming Park of being a Choi “puppet”.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Choi Soon-sil, dubbed by the media "the Rasputin of Korea" came back home yesterday to answer charges that she had influenced President Park Geun-hye editing her speeches and advising outside of any official channel.

The political scandal which is fed daily by new revelations, could cripple Park’s last year in office and prevent her being re-elected.

Two days ago thousands of Koreans took to the streets of Seoul and Busan in the evening demanding Park’s resignation. Instead the President called for the resignation of 10 of her secretaries who reportedly allowed Choi Soon-sil’s influence.

Carrying candles and wearing masks with the face of the Park and Choi, people were shouting slogans such as "Who is the real president?" And "Park Geun-hye resign". Some were carrying sticks with strings that move the arms of other demonstrators, suggesting that Park is "a puppet" of Choi’s.

Choi Soon-sil, 60, is a friend of the 70 year old Park. His father, Choi Tae-min, now deceased, was an ambiguous character. First a Buddhist monk, then Christian pastor, then leader of a Church of Eternal Life, he met and comforted Park after the murder of her mother, the wife of the dictator Park Chung-hee, who was killed in 1974. Choi Tae-min revealed that the woman had appeared in a dream and asked him to help her daughter.

After the murder of Park, by his chief of espionage in 1981, the bonds between father and daughter, Choi and Park Geun-hye have been strengthened. On the death of Choi Tae-min in 1994, the daughter continued to play the role of confidant and friend of the Park. Her ex-husband has served the Park until the presidential elections of 2012.

The accusations point to the fact that Choi received Park’s speeches and edited them, although not part of her staff; also she would have advised the President on the recruitment of people in the government.

Choi is also accused of using her influence on Park in order to receive funds from Korean companies and of having appropriated money intended for nonprofit organizations.

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