Ex-national fencer quizzed over possible link

Top left: Mr Ko has been called up for two rounds of questioning. Bottom left: K-drama actor Park (left) has denied knowing Mr Ko after an old picture of them with other men was circulated online.
Mr Ko has been called up for two rounds of questioning.
Top left: Mr Ko has been called up for two rounds of questioning. Bottom left: K-drama actor Park (left) has denied knowing Mr Ko after an old picture of them with other men was circulated online.
K-drama actor Park has denied knowing Mr Ko after an old picture of them with other men was circulated online.

SEOUL • A former member of South Korea's national fencing team has also been implicated in the political scandal.

Mr Ko Young Tae, 40, has been summoned for two rounds of questioning since he returned to South Korea last week, reported local media.

He told reporters as he was leaving the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office yesterday that he did not own the tablet computer which contained files of confidential documents from the presidential Blue House.

A reporter of cable channel JTBC had found the tablet PC from Ms Choi Soon Sil's office in Seoul. Files discovered inside the tablet PC included drafts of 44 speeches and other statements that President Park Geun Hye had given from 2012 to 2014, as a presidential candidate and later as president.

The tablet PC had two photos of Ms Choi, including a selfie.

But Ms Choi, 60, denied she owned the tablet PC and claimed it belonged to Mr Ko, reported Korea Herald. "I do not even know how to use a tablet PC," Ms Choi said during an interview with the Segye Ilbo on Wednesday in Germany.

Mr Ko is a former member of the national sabre team, winning a gold medal at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok. He is now the chief of accessory brand Villomillo which became famous after President Park carried one of its bags in 2013.

Mr Ko told reporters he came to know Ms Choi "while supplying the President with bags" at around the end of 2012, reported Korea Herald.

Local media reported that Mr Ko and Ms Choi are rumoured to have met at an entertainment house where young men target rich middle-aged women as clients.

In a separate development, K-drama actor Park Hae Jin plans to take strong measures against online rumours after a picture of him with Mr Ko and two other men was circulated online.

"One thing is crystal clear, Park has never kept in contact with Ko Young Tae," read a statement released by his agency on Monday. "This gossip-like rumour does not help unravel the escalating controversy these days."

The picture was taken 14 years ago, reported Korea Times.

"The picture was coincidentally taken at a bar in Busan before Park's debut as an actor and Park did not know the person in the photo was Ko until encountering news about it recently," Park's agency Mountain Movement said in its statement. "There were about 15 people at the bar at the time and they did not all know one another."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-national fencer quizzed over possible link'. Print Edition | Subscribe