Former President of South Korea Park Geun-hye was arrested and jailed on Friday in Korea on charges of corruption that led to her removal from office three weeks ago.
In November, a group of University students held a demonstration regarding the scandal. The group read its “Declaration Regarding the State of Affairs in the Republic of Korea” in front of Nassau Hall, demanding the former president’s impeachment.
Park, 65, is the first leader since the country’s transition to democracy to be sent to jail, according to The New York Times. She is also the first child of a former president to win the presidency, as well as the first female president of South Korea.
After months of widespread protests in the country, the Constitutional Court of South Korea ousted Park on March 9. Prosecutors had accused Park of forcing business into donating money to foundations under her control. She had also been accused of allowing her longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil, inappropriate influence in state affairs.
Park was found to be conspiring with Choi to collect tens of millions of dollars from businesses in South Korea, including millions in bribes from Samsung. Both Choi and Samsung’s top executive, Lee Jae-yong, have already been arrested and are currently standing trials on bribery charges.
Millions also took to the streets in South Korea in peaceful protest to demand Park’s resignation. When Park refused to step down, the National Assembly successfully impeached her through an overwhelming vote.
A judge at the Seoul Central District issued the arrest warrant early Friday morning, urging swiftness of action in the fear that Park could “destroy evidence,” according to The New York Times.
Park was taken to a jail outside Seoul, with television crews following the car and nationally televising the 10-minute ride. She will commute from her cell to the Seoul courthouse once her trial begins.
If convicted of bribery, Park could face between 10 years and life in prison, although her successor has the power to free Park with a special presidential pardon.
Park’s arrest marks another tumultuous chapter in her family history.
Park’s father, Park Chung-hee, ruled South Korea from 1961 to 1979. While he was credited with sternly opposing Communism and building the country’s world-class economy, he was also viewed as a dictator. Park’s father was eventually assassinated by his spy chief.
Five years prior to the assassination, Park’s mother, Yuk Young-soo, was fatally shot by a pro-North Korean assassin who had targeted her husband. After the deaths of her parents, Park lived in isolation, unmarried and without children.
In 2013, Park returned to the presidential Korean Blue House after winning the presidential election. Older Koreans who longed for stern leadership represented her strongest supporters, while many others warned that she may bring the country back to its authoritarian past.
In a speech last November, in the wake of her paralyzing political scandal, Park confided tearfully that she regretted ever becoming president.
A presidential election will be held on May 9 to choose a new leader. The liberal opposition leader, Moon Jae-In, is considered most likely to win the election.