Choi Soon-sil's Daughter Lived in Quiet Luxury on the Lam

  • By Choi Yeon-jin

    January 05, 2017 09:51

    Locals on the outskirts of the northern Danish town of Aalborg were startled to see Korean news crews and local police descend on a house in their leafy enclave earlier this week.

    Neighbors rushed outside to watch the ruckus, while a local TV crew was scrambled to cover the incident. But the residents of the house at the center of the commotion were eerily silent, closing all the curtains and covering other windows with paper.

    It was here that the fugitive daughter of President Park Geun-hye's longtime crony Choi Soon-sil had been hiding until her arrest on Sunday. 

    Neighbors said they thought Chung Yoo-ra and her entourage, who came to the neighborhood in October last year, had something to do with horses.

    One local in his 60s said, "I asked a young man who was part of the group and he said they were engaged in equestrian work. I thought that was unusual since we don't see many people from Korea, but didn't think much of it because there's a riding center nearby." Another resident said, "There wasn't much contact since they didn't come out of the house during the day."

    Journalists report in front of the house of Chung Yoo-ra in Aalborg, Denmark on Tuesday. /Yonhap

    The house is a bungalow with a basement, terrace and spacious shed. Dogs and cats could be heard in the shed and basement, apparently pets Chung had brought along from Germany.

    Neighbors said the monthly rent for the house was 17,000 kroner or around W2.8 million (US$1=W1,204). "I heard the rent for the house was a bit higher than the average in the neighborhood," a neighbor said.

    Yet when she was arrested, Chung told Korean reporters that she is flat broke. She is believed to have moved to Aalborg after disappearing from Frankfurt in mid-October. Her 19-month-old son and entourage of three are apparently still living in the house.

    Danish police on Sunday arrested Chung, a nanny in her 60s and two young men but released all except Chung.

    Chung told reporters that she was being represented by a court-appointed lawyer, but Jan Schneider, the Danish lawyer representing her, works for a major law firm called TVC, where he specializes in criminal law and economic crimes, according to the firm's website.

    It is unclear whether she hired Schneider or whether her attorney in Germany referred him, but the legal fees will not be cheap.

    Aalborg is around 400 km away from Copenhagen. The third-largest city in Denmark, it has a population of only around 200,000. There are several equestrian facilities nearby, including Helgstrand Dressage training stable, which boards Chung's horse Vitana V.

    A court has extended her detention until the end of the month, and Danish police said they will deport Chung if the Korean government requests it.

    The young woman is accused of being a major beneficiary of an extortion racket her mother ran with the connivance of Cheong Wa Dae and apparently has billions of won worth of assets to her name in Germany alone.

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