The rise and fall of South Korea’s Park Geun-hye
Seoul, South Korea — The arrest of South Korea’s first female president marks a stunning fall for the scion of a powerful general who himself ruled the country during her teenage years and into her 20s.
Park Geun-hye was jailed Friday, three weeks after the Constitutional Court stripped her of office over a corruption scandal. Prosecutors accuse her of colluding with a jailed confidante to amass an illicit fortune and allowing the friend to manipulate state affairs.
The memories of December 2012, when she convincingly won the presidency thanks to older voters who remembered her father as a hero who lifted a nation from war-torn poverty, couldn’t feel more remote.
A look at key developments in Park’s life and political career:
■ 1963: Park, then 11, moves into the presidential Blue House after her father, Park Chung-hee, becomes president, two years after he staged a coup and took control of the country.
■ 1974: Her mother is shot and killed by a man targeting her father during a speech in Seoul, claiming orders from then-North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. Park begins serving as first lady.
■ 1979: Her father is assassinated by his spy chief during a late-night drinking party. Park leaves the Blue House after her father’s state funeral.
■ 1990: Park resigns as chairman of a children’s foundation over suspicions that she allowed her mentor, Choi Tae-min, and his daughter, Choi Soon-sil, to manipulate it for personal gains. Park’s ties with the Choi clan will prove to be damaging after she becomes president.
■ 1998: After years of mostly avoiding the public eye, Park enters politics and wins a parliamentary seat amid public nostalgia for her father at a time when South Korea was being battered by the Asian financial crisis.
■ 2006: Park, by now leader of the main conservative party, is attacked by a man wielding a box cutter while campaigning in Seoul. She receives 60 stitches for an 11-centimeter (four-inch) gash on her face. The first words she reportedly says at a hospital are, “How is Daejeon?” to check on campaigning in the central city; that further builds up her image as a strong leader.
■ 2012: Park becomes the country’s first female president in a landslide victory over liberal opponent Moon Jae-jin.
■ 2014: The 6,800-ton Sewol ferry sinks off the country’s southwest coast, killing 304 people, mostly teenagers on a school trip. Park comes under heavy criticism over what was seen as a botched rescue by the government.
■ 2016: Media report suspicions that a senior Park aide pressured companies into giving money to nonprofit organizations controlled by Choi Soon-sil, the daughter of her mentor. Park acknowledges her ties with Choi in a speech to the nation, but denies breaking the law. Prosecutors indict Choi and two former Park aides in November, and lawmakers impeach Park a few weeks later.
■ 2017: The Constitutional Court votes unanimously to uphold the impeachment and remove Park from office, which lifts her immunity from prosecution. Prosecutors call her in for questioning. Ten days later, she is arrested.