On March 10th of this year, following weeks of mass protests, former president of South Korea Park Geun-hye was impeached unanimously as well as being charged of 18 crimes including bribery, abuse of power, coercion, and leaking of government secrets. Park’s impeachment was deeply rooted in Park’s relationship with Choi Soon-sil, a prime accomplice who masterminded Park’s such crimes Although Park’s trials have already started on May 23rd, it is highly likely that more conglomerates will be in trial shortly. Some of the conglomerates include the vice chairman of Samsung Group, Lee Jae Yong; CEO of Lotte Group, Shin Dong Bin; along with few of the largest national corporations like CJ Corporations and Hanwha Group.
Park’s trials have been aired live on national television, and she has denied all charges completely. CEO Shin and Choi Soon-sil both denied all charges as well. Additionally, Park has said during the first trial that Choi has tricked her, as well as saying that the reports of her alleged bribery were “like a fictional novel”. Park has also insisted that the prosecutors were “dirtying her hard work”. Park’s attitude has not changed since before her impeachment, which sparked further outrage of the nation. However, prosecutors said that they are “more determined than ever” to reveal the truth of this political scandal from these trials.
The spotlight of Park’s trials has been on the exchange of bribe money of about 53 million dollars between Park and Lee Jae Yong, the CEO of Samsung. Park has admitted to receiving such money, but has denied using it for personal purposes. However, it has been revealed in exchange for receiving the money, she manipulated the national pension in an advantageous way for Samsung, as well as backing of Samsung affiliates. Lee has already been testified, and will soon be on trial with Park. Although this scandal has not affected Samsung’s business hugely, it is evident that the nation has lost trust in the transparency of the relationship between the government and big corporations.
Due to previous, turbulent months, newly elected president Moon Jae-in is an antithesis of Park Geun Hye. Moon, from the opposing party from that of Park’s, shows much liberal policies such as promoting dialogue with North Korea, as well as supporting LGBT rights. Moon has also guaranteed transparency of the government by changing the government from only being in the isolated Blue House to a government complex in Seoul. He also proposed to give minority shareholders more power in electing board members to avoid corruption in big corporations.