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South Korean woman who influenced president faces prosecutors

South Korean prosecutors are investigating the degree of Choi’s involvement in amassing a donation of $70 million.

By Elizabeth Shim
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South Korean woman who influenced president faces prosecutors
Choi Soon-sil, who is suspected of having meddled in state affairs and peddled influence on various state projects by exploiting her decades-long friendship with President Park Geun-hye, puts a hand over her mouth while entering the Seoul Central District Prosecution Office in Seoul for questioning on Monday. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The South Korean woman suspected of influencing President Park Geun-hye's decisions for decades returned to the country, where prosecutors questioned her about corruption allegations.

Choi Soon-sil arrived at the Seoul prosecutor's office on Monday afternoon, where local reporters and civic activists mobbed her with questions, newspaper Seoul Economic Daily reported.

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Chaos ensued as Choi said she had "committed an unpardonable sin" as she begged for the forgiveness of the Korean people.

"I am sorry," Choi said.

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As she made her way to the building from the luxury sedan that brought her to the location, one of her shoes, identified as a Prada costing hundreds of dollars, came off, according to the press report.

South Korean prosecutors are investigating the degree of Choi's involvement in amassing a donation of $70 million for the two charitable foundations she created, the Mir and K-Sports Foundations.

Prosecutors are also investigating whether money for donations was cleared through two other companies for embezzlement purposes, and to confirm whether Choi received presidential speeches, state secrets and Park's travel agenda.

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Choi had said a computer tablet obtained by a South Korean television network with photos of her and important information regarding the president is not hers.

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The allegations of corruption have sparked shock and outrage among many South Koreans. More protests are being planned including one organized by artists who say they have been "blacklisted" by the government. The group is asking for Park to step down, local newspaper Segye Ilbo reported.

The protests follow a major demonstration that was held on Saturday, where as many as 30,000 people called for a thorough investigation.

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The controversy surrounding Park has even prompted a North Korea response.

Pyongyang's state-controlled newspaper Rodong Sinmun ran an editorial on Monday, stating the scandal was a "clear demonstration" of the "unusual anomalies" of the "reality of the Park Geun-hye regime."

Last Friday, Park asked for 10 of her senior secretaries to resign, according to CNN.

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