April 24, 2017 10:00
Ex-President Park Geun-hye has sold her home in Seoul's ritzy Gangnam area and bought a new one further south. Her aides plan to move her belongings to the new home later this week.
According to property records, Park signed a contract to sell her house in Samseong-dong for W6.75 billion on April 3, a day before she was arrested (US$1=W1,137). She bought the new home in Naegeok-dong for W2.8 billion in March.
Park's lawyer Yoo Yeong-ha, and ex-Cheong Wa Dae aide Yoon Jeon-choo signed the contract on behalf of the ousted leader.
Sources close to Park said her old house, which was built in 1983, is too old and she wanted to move to a more secluded neighborhood.
Cheong Wa Dae security officials, who are legally obliged to protect her unless she goes to jail, plan to buy a property nearby at taxpayers' expense. Although she was impeached, Park is still entitled to state protection until 2027.
The new two-story house is around 406 sq.m, a little smaller than the house in Samseong-dong, but sits on a bigger plot. Park is believed to have made a profit of around W3 billion from the sale, tax-free because she owned the house for more than 10 years.
There is speculation that she really sold the house to pay for her spiraling legal costs. Since being indicted, Park has fired seven members of her nine-member defense team, retaining only Yoo and Chae Myung-sung.
But legal experts say she has no choice but to bolster her defense team again since she faces 18 criminal charges in a trial that is expected to drag on for months. Park forfeited her pension by being impeached.
Meanwhile, the Seoul Central District Court set a preparatory hearing for her trial for May 2, but she is not required to be present.
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