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Choi’s daughter extradited to S. Korea to face probe into scandal

May 31, 2017
Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye's close friend, speaks at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on May 31, 2017, after being extradited from Denmark a day earlier. The 21-year-old Chung, who had been held at a detention center in the northern Danish city of Aalborg since January, was taken to the prosecutors' office in Seoul for questioning over allegations she received undue academic and financial favors based on her mother Choi Soon-sil's ties with the former president. (Yonhap)

Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s close friend, speaks at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on May 31, 2017, after being extradited from Denmark a day earlier. The 21-year-old Chung, who had been held at a detention center in the northern Danish city of Aalborg since January, was taken to the prosecutors’ office in Seoul for questioning over allegations she received undue academic and financial favors based on her mother Choi Soon-sil’s ties with the former president. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) — The daughter of former President Park Geun-hye’s close friend involved in a corruption scandal returned to South Korea on Wednesday after she was extradited from Denmark where she was in custody for five months.

Chung Yoo-ra, the 21-year-old daughter of Choi Soon-sil, arrived at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, at around 2:40 p.m. She was arrested by local authorities on a flight from Amsterdam where she transferred.

She denied any knowledge of the allegations against her, including inappropriate academic favors and financial support, during a brief news conference at a security area at the airport.

“I don’t know anything about what happened between my mother and the former president but on my personal level, I feel that it is unfair,” she said.

“(People) say that I received all this special treatment, but there isn’t much that I know,” she said. “I keep trying to put the puzzle pieces together, but it does not work all the time.”

Chung had been held at a detention center in Aalborg, Denmark, since early January as she was on Interpol’s wanted list following the South Korean authorities’ request. She repeatedly declined to respond to their summons.

Her extradition was accepted by a Danish court in April. She appealed the decision but then withdrew it last week.

“Since my baby has been staying there alone for too long without any family, I thought it would be better to quickly clear my stance and straighten out any misunderstandings,” Chung said.

Chung’s son has been staying with a nanny in Denmark and will soon return to South Korea as well, she said.

Chung was then taken to the prosecutors’ office in Seoul for questioning on the suspicion of receiving academic favors at Ewha Womans University and irregular funding for equestrian training from Samsung Group. She could also be questioned about her family’s alleged overseas slush funds.

Regarding the university’s decision to revoke her admission, Chung said she “understandably accepts” it.

“I don’t even know what my major is and I never really wanted to go to university, so I don’t have much to say about the nullification of admission,” she said.

When asked about alleged favors given from the country’s largest conglomerate, Chung said she didn’t really think that it was a favor given to her, adding she was told by her mother that she is one of six athletes Samsung has chosen to support their training.

Prosecutors are expected to seek a formal arrest warrant by Friday, at the latest, to detain her for up to 20 days before filing charges against her.

Her mother and Park are in jail and standing trial over a string of corruption allegations that removed the former president from office, including bribery charges involving Samsung.

On the same day, prosecutors demanded a seven-year jail term for Choi on charges of obstruction of duty for allegedly exerting influence at the university to give favors to her daughter. They sought a five-year and a four-year term for the university’s former President Choi Kyung-hee and professor Namkung Gon, respectively.

During the court hearing, Choi sought leniency for her daughter.

“Yoo-ra is not a bad child,” she said. “I hope people show clemency so that she can live the rest of her life properly.”

The sentencing hearing is slated for June 23. It will be the first ruling handed down to Park’s friend Choi, who is standing multiple trials related to the scandal.

Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye's close friend, grimaces in an interview with local media at Incheon airport, west of Seoul, on May 31, 2017, after being extradited from Denmark a day earlier. (Yonhap)

Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s close friend, grimaces in an interview with local media at Incheon airport, west of Seoul, on May 31, 2017, after being extradited from Denmark a day earlier. (Yonhap)

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