Daughter of Park's friend faces extradition

Ms Chung Yoo Ra is the daughter of Choi Soon Sil, a friend of Ms Park accused of colluding with the President to pressure businesses into contributing to non-profit foundations.
Ms Chung Yoo Ra is the daughter of Choi Soon Sil, a friend of Ms Park accused of colluding with the President to pressure businesses into contributing to non-profit foundations.PHOTO: YOUTUBE

Danish police arrest 20-year-old at request of Seoul, which wants her back in South Korea for questioning

SEOUL • The daughter of one of the central figures in a South Korean influence-peddling scandal that led to President Park Geun Hye's impeachment will face extradition proceedings in Denmark, after Danish police arrested her on an Interpol request from Seoul.

Danish police said they arrested Ms Chung Yoo Ra on Sunday evening in the northern Danish city of Aalborg after identifying her as someone "wanted by the police for extensive financial economic crime in South Korea".

Ms Chung, a 20-year-old equestrian competitor, is the daughter of Choi Soon Sil, a friend of Ms Park accused of colluding with the President to pressure businesses into contributing to non-profit foundations.

The scandal has drawn hundreds of thousands of protesters onto the streets of Seoul in weekly demonstrations, and could result in Ms Park, 64, becoming the first democratically elected South Korean leader to leave office early.

Yonhap news agency later reported that South Korean police had already requested Ms Chung's extradition. Denmark and South Korea have an extradition treaty.

Ms Chung in a 2014 photo after winning an Asian Games gold medal in an equestrian event. Samsung Electronics' sponsorship of her riding career is an element of the investigation into her mother Choi Soon Sil's involvement in an influence- peddling sc
Ms Chung in a 2014 photo after winning an Asian Games gold medal in an equestrian event. Samsung Electronics' sponsorship of her riding career is an element of the investigation into her mother Choi Soon Sil's involvement in an influence-peddling scandal that has led to President Park's impeachment. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ms Chung trains for equestrian events in Germany. South Korea's Foreign Ministry had been working to invalidate her passport and the authorities had asked German prosecutors for information about her whereabouts and assets.

Ms Park, whose father ruled South Korea for 18 years after seizing power in a 1961 coup, has denied wrongdoing but apologised for carelessness in her ties with Choi, who is facing her own trial. Choi also denies wrongdoing.

As part of their investigation, South Korean prosecutors are trying to ascertain whether Samsung Electronics sought favours from Choi and Ms Park in return for funding some of their initiatives.

An element of the investigation has been Samsung's sponsorship of Ms Chung's riding career.

Ms Chung told Danish police she was staying in Denmark for equestrian-related work. She said she was aware that the South Korean authorities wanted her for questioning and that her mother had been arrested in the same case, according to Danish police.

A Volkswagen vehicle and horse-riding equipment were found at the house where Ms Chung was arrested, according to South Korea's JTBC TV channel.

Mr Lee Kyung Jae, a lawyer representing both Choi and Ms Chung, said the daughter would cooperate.

"When Chung Yoo Ra returns, I will ensure that she fully cooperates with the special prosecution's investigation," the lawyer told Yonhap news agency.

The Danish authorities said three other adults and a child were with Ms Chung at the time of the arrest, but added that none of them was wanted by the police.

Ms Chung is known to have a young son.

She was expected to appear before a Danish court yesterday, with prosecutors requesting detention until formalities related to the extradition had been completed.

Ms Chung's arrest was first reported by the JTBC channel, which said on its website that its journalists had alerted the Danish police to her whereabouts.

Danish police confirmed the arrest happened after a tip-off from a South Korean journalist.

Ms Chung became a figure of public ire in South Korea last year after it emerged that she had received special treatment from the prestigious Ewha Womans University, where her admission was subsequently cancelled.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2017, with the headline 'Daughter of Park's friend faces extradition'. Print Edition | Subscribe