Trial Continues over President Park's Blacklist of 'Critical' Artists

Trial Continues over President Park's Blacklist of 'Critical' Artists

SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul court on Tuesday held the first preparatory hearing on two former aides to President Park Geun-hye accused of blacklisting cultural figures deemed critical of her conservative government.

   Former Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon and Former Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun were charged earlier this month with abuse of authority and coercion. Prosecutors suspect they masterminded the creation and management of the blacklist and the systemic exclusion of disobedient artists from state support.

   During the hearing at the Seoul Central District Court, their legal representatives denied the defendants' law violation. The two did not attend the hearing.

   Kim is known to have exerted immense influence on state affairs while in office from 2013 to 2015. Cho served as the senior presidential secretary for political affairs from 2014 to 2015 and became the culture minister last year.

   The two have been in custody since last month. Cho, the country's first incumbent minister to be arrested, resigned shortly after the court issued the arrest warrant.

    The list is known to have nearly 10,000 people on it, including author Han Kang, winner of the Man Booker International Prize in 2016, and director Park Chan-wook, who won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.

   Earlier this month, a total of 461 artists filed a suit with the court, seeking 1 million won (US$873) each in compensation from the government, Park and the two former aides.

   Park, who is awaiting the Constitutional Court's decision on her impeachment, has denied all corruption allegations including one that she was involved in the blacklisting of artists.'

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