Former Senior Presidential Secretary Questioned over Allegations of "Blacklist"

Former Senior Presidential Secretary Questioned over Allegations of "Blacklist"

SEOUL, Dec. 28 (Yonhap) -- A former senior presidential secretary was questioned by investigators Wednesday over suspicions the chief executive's office created a "blacklist" of cultural figures who are critical of the government.

   Professor Kim Sang-yule at Seoul-based Sookmyung Women's University appeared at the office of the independent counsel looking into the alleged influence-peddling and corruption scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil.

   Author Han Kang, winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2016, and director Park Chan-wook, who won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, are known to be on the list, though the investigation team declined to confirm.

   There have been suspicions that the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae created the list and handed it over to the culture ministry to restrict the figures from receiving government sponsorships.

   Kim served as senior presidential secretary for education and culture from 2014 to earlier this year.

   "I will fully cooperate with the special counsel's investigation," Kim told reporters before entering the office. He declined to comment further.

   Kim is the uncle of Cha Eun-taek, an associate of Choi, who was arrested and indicted last month over his alleged involvement in the massive corruption plot. Choi is also currently standing trial for a string of charges.

   During a parliamentary hearing held earlier this month, Cha said that Choi asked him to recommend someone to work at the presidential office, and Cha suggested his uncle.

   Also on Wednesday, former presidential aide Shin Dong-churl was questioned over the blacklist.

   Mo Chul-min, South Korea's ambassador to France, arrived in Seoul later in the day after investigators called him in over the scandal. He served as the senior presidential secretary for education and culture from 2013 to 2014.

   The investigation team's spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said they are planning to question Mo on Thursday.

   The investigation team led by independent counsel Park Young-soo has been accelerating its probe since its official launch last week, summoning a series of figures implicated in the scandal. The investigation should be completed within 70 days of the start date and can be extended for another month upon request from the special counsel.'

 

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