December 27, 2016 12:17
Investigators on Monday raided a dozen locations in the independent counsel's probe of a massive corruption scandal engulfing President Park Geun-hye. They included the homes of former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon and Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Cho Yoon-sun.
The raid came just five days after the independent counsel took over the investigation from prosecutors. The raid appears to have been spurred by a criminal complaint on Dec. 12 against nine officials including Kim and Cho by several civic groups.
They accuse them of compiling a blacklist of artists critical of the government when Cho was a senior presidential secretary for political affairs. The blacklist is believed to have been drawn up by Cho's office from summer 2014 to January 2015.
It allegedly lists no fewer than 9,473 artists who have been critical of the government or supported former Minjoo Party chairman Moon Jae-in or Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon in elections. It includes celebrities like actor Song Kang-ho and actress Kim Hye-soo.
The blacklist aimed to "deprive anti-government artists of chances to participate in government-funded programs," the groups say in their complaint.
The first inkling of the blacklist comes from a diary by the late Kim Young-han, who was presidential secretary for civil affairs from June 2014 to January 2015. He kept a diary of instructions chief of staff Kim Ki-choon gave at Cheong Wa Dae meetings.
According to the diary, Kim Ki-choon ordered officials in a meeting in October 2014 to "respond aggressively to all kinds of plots by left-leaning artists." And in a meeting in January 2015, he ordered officials to "make a list of left-leaning figures in the film industry." Cho was in the meeting in her former role.
But both Kim Ki-choon and Cho deny a blacklist existed or they had any role in making it.
Lee Kyu-chul of the independent counsel's team told reporters, "We raided the homes of Kim Ki-choon and Cho to gather evidence for charges of abuse of power."
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