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Former Ewha president detained in Yoo-ra probe

Feb 16,2017
Choi Kyung-hee, former president of Ewha Womans University, was detained with a warrant by prosecutors on Wednesday for allegedly providing preferential treatment to Chung Yoo-ra, daughter of Choi Soon-sil, the powerful friend of President Park Geun-hye.

“In putting together the evidence additionally procured by the prosecution on [former president] Choi, we decided there is a need to keep her detained under a warrant,” said Seong Chang-ho, senior judge of the Seoul Central District Court on Wednesday.

The independent counsel investigating Choi Soon-sil, indicted in November for coercion and power abuse, among other charges, and President Park, who was impeached by the National Assembly in December, had requested the court issue a detention warrant on Ewha’s former president Choi in January but was denied the request.

The counsel requested the detention warrant once more on Saturday, submitting additional evidence, which reportedly included the fact that only Chung was allowed to bring in her awards during the admissions interview at the university, among the 21 student athletes interviewed.

Chung brought in the gold medal she won in the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, which the admissions board said proved a crucial factor in her acceptance. Though it was won after the date acknowledged by the board of admissions, the rules were reportedly bent for Chung.

Chung also received passing grades at the university despite the fact that her reports were filled with typos and expletives, and the fact that she missed many of her classes.

The counsel suspects former president Choi pulled strings with the university admissions board and professors.

Former president Choi was additionally accused of lying during a hearing at the National Assembly in December, where she denied close relations with Chung’s mother by saying she “only met Chung’s mother twice.”

The counsel found records that the former university president and Choi Soon-sil spoke on the phone numerous times in 2016.

Chung, who was admitted to Ewha in 2015, took a leave of absence from the university in September last year. Her whereabouts were unknown until she was arrested in Denmark on Jan. 1 for overstaying her visa, but her detention was extended as Korea filed for her extradition.

BY LEE GA-YOUNG, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]