What we know about Chung Yoo Ra, daughter of key figure in South Korea's corruption scandal involving President Park

Ms Chung Yoo Ra is the only child of Choi Soon Sil - a long-time friend of Korean President Park Geun Hye - who is in custody and on trial for fraud and abuse of power.
Ms Chung Yoo Ra is the only child of Choi Soon Sil - a long-time friend of Korean President Park Geun Hye - who is in custody and on trial for fraud and abuse of power. PHOTO: YOUTUBE

SEOUL - An arrest warrant is out for the 20-year-old daughter of a woman at the centre of a corruption scandal in South Korea that could see President Park Geun Hye becoming the first elected leader to be thrown out of office.

Ms Chung Yoo Ra is the only child of Choi Soon Sil - a long-time friend of Ms Park - who is in custody and on trial for fraud and abuse of power.

The arrest warrant was issued on several charges, including obstruction of justice.

Here's what we know so far about Ms Chung and the case:

1. She received special favours from Ewha Womans University

Ms Chung, an equestrian athlete who competed at the 2014 Asian Games and won a gold medal in a team competition, received special treatment in the education and sports circles due to her mother's close ties to the President.

She triggered public ire earlier this year when it emerged that she had received preferential treatment from the prestigious Ewha Womans University. It was reported then that the school added horseback riding to a list of categories open to student athletes in 2014, right before Ms Chung's admission in early 2015. It stretched its own rules to consider Ms Chung's medal even though she won it four days after the application deadline.

She also enjoyed special favours from the teaching staff. Although she did not show up for eight classes and failed to submit necessary documents required for an excused absence, her attendance record was perfect. In a fashion class, she received high grades even though her homework was poor.

The scandal drew harsh criticism from fellow students, many of whom had spent years studying very hard to pass the national college entrance exam to get into the elite university.

A probe later confirmed the allegations, and her admission to the university was cancelled and she left the institution.

Ms Chung was also stripped of her high school diploma for fabrication of grades and attendance, according to the Seoul education office.

 

2. She and her mother allegedly pocketed 2.8 million euros (S$4.2 million) from Samsung

They are suspected of receiving the money in sponsorship from Samsung Group to purchase horses and cover dressage training fees in Germany. JoongAng Ilbo, one of South Korea's largest newspapers, said that the tech giant is "suspected of lavishly sponsoring" Ms Chung and buying a horse for her. Allegations suggest they spent much of the money for personal use.

In addition, German prosecutors are looking into their alleged act of accumulating assets including properties in Germany through Choi's paper company Widec Sports. They could face up to five years in jail in Germany for money laundering.

3. Ms Chung now lives in Germany; South Korean authorities seeking to have her extradited or deported

She reportedly flew to Germany in September with her mother. The latter returned to Seoul in October for police questioning. Her daughter refused to attend a parliamentary inquiry into the scandal held last week.

A spokesman for the special prosecutor's office, Mr Lee Kyu Chul, said the authorities are working to invalidate her South Korean passport. They have also asked German prosecutors for information on her whereabouts and financial assets, as well as assistance in arresting her.

If the German court approves the arrest warrant, the German prosecution can extradite her to South Korea. If not, the cancellation of her passport could lead to her deportation.

4. Her Facebook post in 2014 upset netizens

In the post, Ms Chung wrote: "Blame your own parents if they don't have the ability. Don't point fingers at us if your parents don't have what it takes. Money is also a form of ability."

Her comment angered many social media users who criticised her arrogant and elitist attitude. Ms Chung is the only child of Choi and her husband Jeong Yun Hoe, who is the president's former chief of staff.

SOURCE: REUTERS, THE KOREA HERALD, KOREA TIMES