Pagoda Group’s head questioned

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Pagoda Group’s head questioned

The president of one of Korea’s largest education companies was brought in for questioning yesterday over allegations that she ordered her chauffeur to kill a relative of her estranged husband in exchange for 490 million won ($463,050).

Park Kyung-sil, president of Pagoda Education Group, appeared at Seocho Police Precinct in southern Seoul for the investigation.

She avoided questions concerning the accusations, only stating that she would answer as frankly as she could during the probe.

Park and her husband, Go In-kyung, the co-founder of the foreign-language education company, have been involved in divorce proceedings since 2012 following quarrels over the group’s management and the distribution of its shares.

They have been married since 1979.

The relative, only identified by his surname Yoon, is believed to have given Go advice on management and business issues.

Yoon said in an interview with a local broadcasting company that Park, 59, had harbored hostility toward him since he told her husband that she had changed over the ownership of the couple’s property to her and her daughter.

During the interview, Yoon said that he helped Go file suits to recover ownership and assisted in gathering documents required for legal action.

Park’s driver, who already admitted during the previous investigations to receiving money from her, also attended yesterday’s questioning, where he allegedly changed the details of his testimony.

The police said his account will help determine whether Park actually plotted the murder as well as other accusations levied against her.

The police added that Park denied plotting to kill her husband, claiming that she gave money to her driver for a different purpose.

In February, the police raided the headquarters of the Pagoda Education Group in central Seoul to gather evidence.

They summoned Park for questioning in March, though at the time she refused to attend, citing her campaign to become the president of the Korea Association of Hagwon.

She was elected as president of the association last month, though some of its members fiercely opposed the election result and questioned her morality following a series of accusations over embezzlement and prior convictions.

Park was convicted of embezzlement and breach of duty in January and given an 18-month prison sentence, which was suspended for two years.

Later she was also charged with paying 1 billion won in bribes to law enforcement officers leading the investigation into the embezzlement case.

Founded in 1969 in Jongno District, the Pagoda Group is a leading education company in charge of hagwon, or private academies, nationwide. It has also published a book about learning foreign languages.

Pagoda currently has more than 10 branches with more than 1,000 employees. Its foreign languages include English, Chinese and Japanese.

The institutes are primarily focused on teaching English to adults and university students.

With some 600,000 students attending the academy each year, the Pagoda Education Group generated 80 billion won in revenue in 2012.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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