Cult leaders, soap operas and Viagra: S. Korea’s presidential scandal has it all

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South Korean President Park Geun-hye visits the Pentagon last year. She faces a parliamentary impeachment vote tabled by opposition parties after they rejected the president's conditional offer last week to resign.  Adrian Cadiz/Defense Department
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South Korean President Park Geun-hye visits the Pentagon last year. She faces a parliamentary impeachment vote tabled by opposition parties after they rejected the president's conditional offer last week to resign. Adrian Cadiz/Defense Department

Cult leaders, soap operas and Viagra: S. Korea’s presidential scandal has it all

by: Kim Gamel | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: December 09, 2016

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s latest political scandal has all the makings of a thriller in which the decisions of the president, lonely and isolated, are influenced by a longtime friend, right down to personnel and policy moves, even what to wear.

Making it even more twisted is that the friend’s father, a cult leader, used similar Rasputin-like control on President Park Geun-hye’s father when he held the top office until he was assassinated in part because of that unhealthy relationship.

Toss in some Viagra, visits to a detox clinic under a pseudonym, a deadly ferry sinking and mass protests even as neighboring North Korea threatens apocalyptic attacks.

In a country where corruption probes have plagued other leaders, this one has gripped the populace and paralyzed the government as the 64-year-old president tries to find the least-humiliating path to step down. She has immunity from criminal charges, but a parliamentary vote on impeachment looms Friday.

The friend, Choi Soon-sil, has been charged with using her connections to persuade companies to donate more than $70 million to two nonprofit foundations that she runs.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.443373

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