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South Korea leader's friend had access to secrets, relayed 'messages' from late mom

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea leader's friend had access to secrets, relayed 'messages' from late mom
President Park Geun-hye had deep ties to an acquaintance who has been suspected of corruption involving her two foundations. Choi Soon-sil reportedly was apprised of confidential state information before disappearing from the country, according to local press reports. Photo by Yonhap News Agency/UPI

SEOUL, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- A longtime acquaintance of South Korean President Park Geun-hye who is tied to a corruption scandal convinced the president she could relay messages from Park's deceased mother, South Korean media reported Wednesday.

Choi Soon-sil, whom Park described as a friend who "helped during a period of difficulty," may have convinced the president of a deeper spiritual connection involving Park's deceased mother, Yuk Young-soo.

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Yuk, a former South Korean first lady and wife of South Korean dictator Park Chung Hee, was killed by an assassin's stray bullet in 1974.

After the death of her mother, Park began consulting Choi's father, a pastor who founded a new religion that combined Christian, Buddhist and native Korean precepts, South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Wednesday.

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Choi Soon-sil's father, Choi Tae-min, would "deliver messages" from Yuk to Park, as the deceased woman began manifesting in her dreams, according to the report.

The younger Choi as heir to the pastor would continue to deliver the "messages."

Park was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church but has attended Buddhist temples in a religious capacity. She has been described as "multi-religious" by the press.

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A source who spoke to the Munhwa on the condition of anonymity said Choi Soon-sil held significant influence over Park's daily decisions as president, including her presidential attire and the color of her clothes.

A computer tablet that belonged to Choi Soon-sil and obtained by South Korean investigators included photos of accessories, including a five-color purse, similar to one Park was seen carrying at an event, according to the report.

Choi Soon-sil may also have been apprised of top secret South Korean military information, local newspaper Segye Ilbo reported.

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A South Korean military source who spoke anonymously said South and North Korean officials met privately three times in December 2012.

The secret meetings became known this week because Choi Soon-sil, who was not in government, received confidential information on the meetings, according to the report.

She her two nonprofits, frequently referred to as the "Mir" and "K Sports" foundations, had been in the news for several weeks because of allegations of corruption.

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