TABITHA THEARD WRITES — After a year-long trial, former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was sentenced to 24 years in prison. She was charged with bribery, abuse of power, and coercion in a case involving multiple business and political elites.
Park was dismissed from office during her second term last March and was replaced by President Moon Jae-in—a Democratic president who won by 41.08 percent during the elections. Supporters of Park, including the conservative Saenuri Party, were devastated about Park’s ousting. Many took to the streets and demanded her release, claiming that her trial was a political witch hunt. Throughout the trial, the Liberty Korea Party—another conservative opposition party formerly led by Park—opposed the call for jail and protested throughout the entire trial.
In March of 2017—two weeks after a trial against former friend and confidant Choi Soon-sil—the prosecution recommended pressing charges against Park. Choi and Park demanded $22 million from three chaebol businesses—including Samsung—and pressured more THAN 18 chaebol companies into donating $72 million to two charity foundations under Choi’s direction.
Park pleaded not guilty to all charges pressed against her. During the trial she admitted that she should not have been so close to Choi or allowed her to be involved in anything political. Nevertheless, she claimed she was innocent throughout the entire trial.
When Park assumed office in 2013, she was seen as the conservative icon that Firstpost dubbed the daughter of the nation, “incorruptible and beholden to none.” Her dad, Park Chung-Hee was known for his strong hold on South Korea during the 70’s that allowed the nation’s economy to flourish and become the world’s 11th strongest economy. Park became the First Lady during her dad’s dictatorship after her mother was killed in a failed assassination attempt against her father; this wasthe beginning of her political career and allowed her to build a platform as she continued to serve as the chairperson of educational and cultural foundations. She later served on the National Assembly (1998-2012), acting as the Chairman of her party between 2004-2006. According to Britannica, she was dubbed the “Queen of Elections” during her campaign for chairman.
In addition to receiving a 24-year prison sentence at age 66, Park was also fined $16 million. Despite being charged with bribery and money laundering, law professor Ryan Song from Kyung Hee University in Seoul told the Los Angeles Times that it still hasn’t been proven that “President Park has personally financially gained, in terms of bribery.” The court did, however, prove that she indirectly gained politically and funded a friend’s businesses, including national sports promotion. Nevertheless, Park will not be sentenced to life in prison, but will continue to be charged and sentenced for each charge she is convicted of–meaning she could be sentenced to 250 years in prison.
The true victims of this trial are Park supporters. Whether blinded by loyalty or hoping for a better outcome, supporters were devastated upon hearing the news of their former leader.