South Koreans are channeling their anger at president Park Geun-hye by game apps parodying her relationship with a shadowy, “quack-like” female confidante—one that has snowballed into perhaps the nation’s biggest-ever political scandal.
Choi Soon-sil, the woman in question, is the daughter of a Christian cult leader who had close ties with Park’s father, former president Park Chung-hee, who was assassinated when Park was a young woman. She has reportedly been advising the president on policy matters, editing her speeches without holding any public office, and leveraging their close relationship for influence and personal gain. Choi, who is now under arrest, is said to have a spiritual hold over the president and to have given her shamanistic advice.
The character of one game, Hurry Up Soon-sil, has run off with money and must ride a flying stick horse through obstacles such as giant handcuffs to avoid being captured, outside of what looks like the presidential Blue House. The character is named Soon-siri, after Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, suggesting that Choi is the president’s virtual puppet master.
“Soon-siri has ridden away from home and she hasn’t come home! Older sister is in trouble and is looking for her anxiously, so come home quick! Come out Soon-sil!” wrote the app’s creator in the game’s description on Google Play, bringing to mind the search for the president’s confidant, who recently turned herself in to Korean authorities.
The game’s creator has denied that the app (link in Korean) relates to current events, but the stick horse is thought to be a hat tip to allegations that Choi used her influence to get her daughter, dressage rider Chung Yoo-ra, into the prestigious Ewha Women’s University in Seoul.
In another game, Choi’s Gate, players win points by matching the correct phrases to peculiar remarks Park has made in her speeches in the past, a reference to one of the allegations that Park had been letting Choi vet her speeches—something Park has admitted to. They include lines that have baffled Koreans, such as: “Forgo learning your country’s history, and you will become soulless; learn the wrong history, and your soul will become abnormal. It’s a truly frightening thought.” Get it wrong and Park’s face turns red with embarrassment.
In Soon-sil Raises a Chicken, the president is parodied as a chicken who is being raised by a character called Soon-siri. The chicken performs missions such as editing speeches, opposing North Korea to win the election, and saving the country. With each completed mission, the “Yushin ability” rises. Yushin refers to the constitution that allowed the president’s authoritarian father to extend his rule.
This game, however, has been removed from Google Play. Google did not respond to a query over its removal.
In the comments section of the game on Google Play, some users wrote mock letters addressed to the country’s courts, sarcastically saying they were preparing to be sued for playing a game that mocked the president.
“Dear judge, I am not guilty. My cat installed it with its paws and I can’t remove this app,” wrote one commenter before the game was removed.