S. Korea's Ambassador to Myanmar Questioned over President Park Scandal

S. Korea's Ambassador to Myanmar Questioned over President Park Scandal

SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Ambassador to Myanmar Yoo Jae-kyung was questioned by investigators Tuesday over allegations a close friend of President Park Geun-hye, who is at the center of an influence-peddling scandal rocking the country, was involved in his appointment as the top envoy.

   Yoo appeared before the office of the independent counsel team looking into the scandal that led to President Park Geun-hye's impeachment, in southern Seoul after he returned to South Korea earlier in the day.

   The probe team suspects that Park's jailed friend Choi Soon-sil was behind the appointment of the 58-year-old as the ambassador in May 2016. Yoo, a former senior executive at Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co., had no experience in diplomacy until the appointment.

   There have been allegations that Choi recommended Yoo to the president to gain economic profits through businesses in Myanmar. Choi and Yoo are known to have had a face-to-face meeting in March 2016.

   "I still do not know who recommended me as ambassador," Yoo told reporters as he arrived at the probe team's office. "If somebody has recommended me to this post with an ulterior motive, I can tell you that the person has got the wrong person." 

   He did not directly mention Choi and declined to comment when asked if he actually had the meeting in March.

   "Upon appointment, I was told by the president that they were looking for somebody with experience in trade, instead of an authentic diplomat, so as to tap into the new market," Yoo added. 

   It is the second time for an incumbent ambassador stationed abroad to be called in by investigators in relation to the scandal.

   South Korea's Ambassador to France Mo Chul-min returned to South Korea last month, following the investigation team's summons over suspicions the presidential office created a "blacklist" of cultural figures considered critical of the government. Mo served as a senior presidential secretary from 2013 to 2014.'

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