Bring Chung backChung Yoo-ra, daughter of Choi Soon-sil, who is on trial for a number of criminal charges of abusing power to the extent of undermining state institutions and dignity, was arrested in Denmark for residing in the country illegally. Once she is returned home, she will face a probe by the independent counsel investigating the Choi Soon-sil scandal and hopefully provide the missing pieces to the puzzle.
Chung’s testimony is crucial to determine her illegal entry into Ewha Womans University and other favoritism she enjoyed, as well as how Samsung Electronics came to finance her equestrian training so that the counsel can slap a third-party bribery charge on Choi and others.
The problem is whether Chung would voluntarily return home. If she resists heading back to Seoul, legal proceedings to force her return would delay her questioning. Chung is in custody by Danish police for illegally staying in the country, not for criminal charges in Korea.
The police can at best detain her for 72 hours. Her return could take more than six months if she files suit to resist extradition. It had taken more than two years to bring home the daughter of Yoo Byung-eun, the former head of Semo Group, who operated the Sewol ferry.
The independent counsel does not have much time. It has to get answers from Chung during the two months left in its preliminary term. It must build up enough evidence to charge Park ahead of the impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court. The counsel has asked Danish authorities for the emergency detention of Chung to keep her in custody. It has also requested the foreign ministry invalidate her passport so that she cannot stay overseas.
The special investigation team must probe Chung on her illegal entry to Ewha Womans University and favoritism in earning scores and credits. An arrest warrant has been filed against Ryu Chul-kyun, an Ewha professor in the Digital Media Department, for making his teaching assistant take Chung’s exam instead. Chung and her mother are also subject to a probe in equestrian-related corruption.
Investigation of Chung could pressure Choi to reverse her denials on charges against her.
Chung fueled the public outcry and opened Pandora’s Box with her insolent social media posts defying her critics saying that “Money is power, and if you don’t have it, blame your parents.” Law enforcement authorities and all other government offices must join forces to bring Chung home to face justice as soon as possible.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 3, Page 30