Former South Korean president arrested, jailed

The 65-year-old appeared expressionless as she arrived at the Seoul Central District Court at 10:20 a.m. (0120 GMT) to plead her case that she should not be arrested while prosecutors investigate the scandal that has ensnared South Korea's political and business elite.

The former president, who was stripped of her immunity when she was dismissed from office by the country's top court earlier in March, is accused of many offences, including bribery, leaking government information and abuse of power.

Park gave about eight hours of testimony at the same court on Thursday and was held at the prosecutors' office next door while the judge studied the evidence and arguments to decide on whether to issue the arrest warrant.

The arrest warrant for Park, which was sought by prosecutors earlier this week, was issued by the court, following the Thursday hearing that had lasted for almost nine hours, the longest-ever in the country's history. During Japan's colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula, the prison was notorious as a torture center for Korean independence activists. Park reportedly denied all charges against her. After the deaths of her parents, Park lived in isolation, unmarried and without children.

"It is the first step to rebuilding a collapsed Republic of Korea", Park Kwang-on said, using South Korea's official name.

The ruling sparked protests from hundreds of Park's supporters, two of whom were killed in clashes with police outside the court, and a festive rally by those who had demanded her ouster who celebrated justice being served.

Five years prior to the assassination, Park's mother, Yuk Young-soo, was fatally shot by a pro-North Korean assassin who had targeted her husband.

While there was reportedly a sharp debate over the 13 charges during Park's arrest warrant hearing, Prosecutors had already amassed a considerable amount of evidence during their three investigations.

The former president is expected to be put into a solitary room, just like her longtime confidante Choi and her predecessors Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo.

2004: Park becomes leader of the main conservative party, which scores an upset victory in parliamentary elections.

Park's former culture minister, Cho Yoonsun, and her ex-chief of staff, Kim Ki-choon, are also being held at the detention center following their arrests over suspicions that they blacklisted thousands of artists deemed as unfriendly to Park to deny them state support.

She will remain in segregation, with no access to personal security or assistance of any kind, and be left to perform daily tasks all on her own.

After Park's father was assassinated in 1979 by the then director of the Korean equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency, his killer cited Choi's relationship with the younger Park as one of the reasons.

Another said she had been having "sleepless nights and skipping meals" since moving out of the presidential palace.

  • Leroy Wright