Choi Soon-sil's Daughter Refuses to Return Voluntarily

  • By Choi Yeon-jin, Park Sang-ki

    January 09, 2017 10:13

    The daughter of President Park Geun-hye's longtime crony Choi Soon-sil will not return to Korea voluntarily to face questioning in the massive corruption scandal involving her mother and Park.

    Instead, the Korean ambassador to Denmark has asked Danish authorities to speed up the extradition of Chung Yoo-ra, who is believed to be a major beneficiary of the extortion racket her mother allegedly ran with the connivance of Cheong Wa Dae.

    Chung was arrested in the northern town of Aalborg on Jan. 1 and had earlier said she would return voluntarily if she could be investigated without detention and stay with her 19-month-old son. But the independent counsel investigating the scandal demurred.

    "We clearly explained to Danish authorities the need to extradite Chung quickly," a source on the independent counsel's team said. "We're going to go ahead regardless of what Chung wants."

    Danish prosecutors said they will interview Chung this week and reach a decision this month whether or not to extradite her." Mohammad Ahsan, a deputy director of Public Prosecutions, told reporters in Copenhagen on Saturday, "We will review the extradition request submitted by Korean prosecutors and interview her as early as this week."

    "It is our goal to reach a decision before the deadline of Chung's detention [Jan. 30]. If we do not reach a decision by that date, we will extend her detention period so that she cannot escape," he added. But Ahsan said if Chung fights extradition, it is difficult to forecast how long the process will take since she could continue to appeal any ruling that is disadvantageous to her.

    If her case is taken all the way up to Denmark's Supreme Court, it could take more than a year before she can be extradited to Korea.

    Chung Yoo-ra answers questions from Korean reporters during a break from a court hearing in Aalborg, Denmark on Jan. 2.

    Meanwhile, the independent counsel's office said another person not only sat tests on behalf of Chung at Ewha Womans University but also attended class for her.

    Chung received credits for an online class in the first semester of the 2016 academic year, but investigators discovered that someone logged on using her ID from an IP address in Korea while she was demonstrably out of the country. Chung received credits for eight subjects at Ewha since 2015 but attended none of those classes.

    The university president has already resigned in disgrace, but the independent counsel suspects that several members of faculty and staff bent over backwards to accommodate her.

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