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(LEAD) Independent counsel team to seek arrest warrant against Ewha professor

All News 12:30 January 01, 2017

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS photo, new info in paras 1-5)

SEOUL, Jan. 1 (Yonhap) -- The independent counsel team investigating a corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her friend Choi Soon-sil plans to seek an arrest warrant this week against a professor suspected of offering academic favors to Choi's daughter, an informed source said Sunday.

The probe team, led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo, is set to request the warrant by Monday at the latest to formally arrest Ryu Chul-kyun, a professor of Ewha Womans University, who has allegedly offered inappropriate favors to Chung Yoo-ra in grading papers and exams.

Ryu, better known by his pen name Yi In-hwa, was detained on Saturday on charges including obstruction.

He is suspected of having a teaching assistant take Chung's exam. On the day of the exam, Chung was reportedly in Germany. The university had already decided to expel Chung.

The special prosecutors have decided to seek the arrest warrant against Ryu due to the possibility of him attempting to destroy evidence, a source said.

This photo, taken on Dec. 31, 2016, shows Ryu Chul-kyun, a professor of Ewha Womans University, being escorted by police in Seoul to face questioning by the independent counsel team investigating a corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her friend. (Yonhap)

Meanwhile, a former vice culture minister returned home Sunday after the independent counsel team questioned him over the alleged existence of a blacklist of cultural figures critical of the government.

The team queried former First Vice Culture Minister Kim He-beom for some 17 hours over allegations that Kim Ki-choon, former presidential chief of staff, interfered with top-level appointments at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2014.

The former vice minister was also questioned over the suspicion that the Park government had blacklisted artists and other cultural figures deemed to be critical of government policies. The list was purportedly drawn up to ban any government support of the figures in question.

The former presidential chief of staff is rumored to have directed Kim He-beom in October 2014 to receive resignations from six high-ranking officials at the ministry, some of whom had reportedly been against the blacklisting of artists. Three of the six officials have resigned.

Former Culture Minister Yoo Jin-ryong said in a recent media interview that former Vice Minister Kim Chong had handed over the blacklist to Kim He-beom as well as the former presidential chief of staff.


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