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Reuters/Kim Hong-ji
Guilty.
BEHIND BARS

Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye goes behind bars and awaits her fate

Isabella Steger
By Isabella Steger

Asia deputy editor

Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye was arrested today (March 31), the third Korean president to be jailed.

A court in Seoul approved Park’s arrest warrant after a full day of hearings yesterday (March 30). She will be held as her case is heard by a court that will decide whether to indict her. Prosecutors are seeking to charge Park with bribery, abuse of power, extortion, and passing on state secrets to her close female confidante, Choi Soon-sil, whose deep connections to Park were discovered by a Korean television station in October, sparking months of street protests and Park’s eventual impeachment. Park was accused of conspiring with Choi to collect millions in bribes from some of Korea’s biggest companies, including $38 million from Samsung. Samsung’s heir-in-waiting Lee Jae-yong and Choi are both on trial and in detention. Park, Choi, and Lee have all denied wrongdoing.

According to Reuters, after her arrest Park will be placed in a solitary cell for up to 20 days while prosecutors seek to indict her. Her only privilege compared with other inmates will be having a slightly larger cell with a separate bathroom. She also will not be able to get her hair coiffed, the report said.

The judge presiding over Park’s case is Kang Bu-yeong of the Seoul Central District Court, a native of Jeju island who started his legal career in 2004, according to the Korea Times.

Since her impeachment, Park had been living in her private residence in the upscale Samseong-dong neighborhood of Seoul. Some of her hardcore supporters (paywall) had reportedly been waiting outside her home since Monday, when state prosecutors requested Park’s arrest warrant. They have also been gathering outside the court, waving the South Korean flag (paywall).

A presidential election will be held on May 9. The frontrunner is the progressive Minjoo party’s Moon Jae-in. “Now we will turn a page of our painful history and gather our strengths to build a fair and clean nation,” a spokesman for Moon said following Park’s arrest.