South Korea lawmakers on Monday kicked off an unprecedented series of hearings that will see the country’s business elite grilled over a corruption scandal engulfing impeachment-threatened President Park Geun-Hye. The powerful heads of family-run conglomerates, or “chaebols,” such as Samsung and Hyundai will be among those testifying before a parliamentary investigation ahead of an impeachment vote to remove the president on Friday.
The hearings opened on the back of a series of mass anti-Park demonstrations in Seoul that have seen millions of people take to the streets. Park is accused of colluding with her long-time friend, Choi Soon-Sil, to strong-arm giant corporations into “donating” nearly USD 70 million to two dubious non-profit foundations. Choi has been indicted for coercion and abuse of power, and is accused of syphoning some of the donated funds for personal use. She denies all criminal charges. Choi had been summoned for questioning at the televised hearings, but made it clear on Monday that she would absent herself, citing health grounds.