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People's Daily Online

Embattled confidante of S. Korean president returns to Seoul

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 15:18, October 30, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- Choi Soon-sil, a longtime confidante of South Korean President Park Geun-hye suspected of illicitly intervening in state affairs, returned to Seoul on Sunday, with prosecutors expected to summon her as early as next Monday.

Prosecutors said that Choi had voluntarily returned to Seoul from London at about 7:30 a.m. local time via a British Airways flight, according to local media reports. She is expected to be summoned as early as next Monday for questioning.

Choi's attorney Lee Kyung-jae told a televised press conference that Choi will actively comply with prosecutors' investigation and state honestly, saying she is expressing deep apology for frustrating and dejecting people.

Choi reportedly left for Germanyon Sept. 3 as allegations surrounding her spread. She said in a recent interview with local newspaper Segye Ilbo in Germany that she could not come home as her heart problems made her unable to fly on airplanes.

However, she made the comeback decision amid surging public outcry that her lawyer said could trigger accidents unexpected, indicating Choi had felt worried about her personal safety. Choi, a private citizen, had recently moved to Britain as many South Korean journalists traced her.

Choi, who is known to have a relationship with President Park for about 40 decades, is suspected of having intervened in government affairs without any public position and security clearance, pressuring conglomerates into donating tens of millions of U.S. dollars to two foundations controlled by her and exercising her influence to enable her daughter to illicitly enter a prestigious university.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the street in Seoul on Saturday night, demanding President Park step down or even be impeached. Similar rallies and gatherings are expected nationwide on Sunday night.

Prosecutors attempted on Saturday to raid Park's office, which disapproved of it on concerns that confidential documents could be leaked.

From Sunday morning, investigators are reportedly trying again to search the offices of two presidential secretaries, suspected of being involved in the fundraising of the Choi-controlled foundations and leaking presidential documents to Choi.

President Park directed all of senior presidential secretaries on Friday night to step down, but some of opposition lawmakers say their resignations would not be enough.

  Opposition parties have called on Park to dissolve the current cabinet and form a grand-coalition government by appointing a politically-neutral prime minister and letting him choose cabinet members. Enditem

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