Ex-presidential aide grilled over alleged blacklist of cultural figures

A former senior presidential secretary was questioned by investigators Wednesday over suspicions the presidential office created a "blacklist" of cultural figures who are critical of the government.

Kim Sang-yule, former senior presidential secretary for education and culture, arrives at the independent counsel's office for questioning in southern Seoul on Dec. 28, 2016. There have been suspicions that the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae created a blacklist of cultural figures who are critical of the government. (Yonhap

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.

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 sponsorship.

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, is on his way to Seoul after investigators called him in over the scandal. He served as the senior presidential secretary for education and culture from 2013 to 2014.

"We will decide on the when to question him after he (Mo) arrives here," the investigation team's spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said during a press briefing.

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 from the start date and can be extended for another month upon request from the special counsel.

Yonhap

Other news