Plot Thickens in Crony Scandal

      October 31, 2016 11:34

      The true power broker behind President Park Geun-hye was not Choi Soon-sil, the confidante accused of interfering in state affairs and influence peddling, but her older sister Choi Soon-deuk, sources claimed Sunday.

      "When Soon-deuk gave the orders, Soon-sil did as she was told," said one source who claims to have met every week with the Choi sisters over the last 20 years. "The media is reporting that Soon-sil is the power broker, but the real power was held by Soon-deuk."

      Soon-deuk (64) went to high school with Park. When Park was attacked by an assailant in 2007, she spent about a week at Soon-deuk's home recovering from her facial wound.

      "Soon-deuk went around bragging about it," the source told the Chosun Ilbo.

      Another source who has known the Choi sister for some 20 years told the Chosun Ilbo, "During our drinking sessions, Soon-deuk used to brag that politicians seeking appointments to high office visit her with bags of money. Soon-deuk's health deteriorated after 2012 and there are rumors that she has taught her daughter how to use her influence for money."

      A person walks through the blacked-out home of Choi Soon-deuk in Seoul on Sunday.

      Choi Soon-deuk has apparently been hiding out in a villa in the affluent Gangnam area since the scandal broke. The windows of the villa were dark when a reporter visited on Sunday evening, but one person could be spotted entering and leaving the home.

      Soon-deuk's former chauffeur told the Chosun Ilbo, "Soon-deuk has been in bad health for the last two or three years, so she mainly stays at home and leaves only to go to hospital. She recently grew too weak even to meet people."

      The Choi sisters are the daughters of Choi Tae-min, the leader of an obscure cult who became Park's mentor in the 1970s, when she was acting as first lady to her father, strongman Park Chung-hee.

      Choi senior has been compared to Grigori Rasputin, a charismatic monk and faith healer of the late Russian empire. Evidence suggests that his daughters maintained the family's grip on the woman who would later become president, growing fabulously rich in the process by trading on their influence.

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