Deposed S. Korean president arrested, jailed after long saga

If the warrant is granted Park will be detained and taken to a detention centre south of the capital, becoming the third former leader to be arrested over corruption in Asia's fourth-largest economy, where politics and big business have always been closely tied.

Park Geun-hye entered the Seoul Detention Center in a black sedan before dawn Friday, March 31, 2017, after a court approved her arrest on corruption allegations. If convicted of bribery, Park would face an imprisonment of at least 10 years. She is also the first child of a former president to win the presidency, as well as the first female president of South Korea.

Park is also alleged to have leaked state secrets and colluded with Choi to seek bribes from Samsung Group's heir apparent Jay Y. Lee in return for business favors. Park can be detained up to 20 days while being investigated on the allegations.

Park had waited overnight for the court's decision in the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, a building next to the Seoul court.

Ms Park now joins them with her own cell at the centre.

Prosecutors said on Monday Park was accused of soliciting companies for money and infringing upon the freedom of corporate management in her position as president. She has denied all of the charges against her.

Park and her lawyers had argued that she should not be arrested because she did not pose a flight risk and would not try to tamper with evidence.

A comic parody of Park on Saturday Night Live Korea, broadcast back in 2012 on one of CJ's cable networks, has been cited by prosecutors on Wednesday as one of the reasons the company provoked her wrath.

Lee Jae-yong was charged with authorising a payment of W.43bn ($37m) of which half is said to have found its way to the "so-called foundations" controlled by Choi - including the K-Sports and Mir charitable foundations. Choi made similar statements.

In a speech last November, in the wake of her paralyzing political scandal, Park confided tearfully that she regretted ever becoming president. Both were given special pardons in 1997 after serving only two years in jail, in an attempt to promote "national harmony" by the then-president, Kim Young-sam.

Park left the presidential Blue House after his father Park Chung-hee, who had ruled the country for 18 years, was assassinated in 1979 by one of his closest aides.

South Korea will hold an election in May to choose Park's successor. There have been massive protests against Park, with thousands taking to the streets demanding her ouster. She took on the role of first lady at age 22 after losing her mother to an assassin's bullet meant for her strongman father.

She had since become an icon of South Korean conservatives, earning the nickname "Queen of Elections" for her ability to led her conservative party to win tight elections.

  • Leroy Wright