South Korea culture minister arrested over arts blacklist

Cho is the first sitting minister in the country’s history to be arrested.
Shortly after her arrest, Cho tendered her resignation to Prime minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office said.She was arrested because her crime has been “verified and there were concerns over destruction of evidence”, Seoul Central District Court said.A local court has issued another arrest warrant for President Park Geun-hye’s close friend at the center of an influence-peddling scandal, after she repeatedly refused to respond to investigators summons, the probe team said Monday.”We feel bad and shameful that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism caused any problems in the fairness of the government’s support of the culture-arts scene over the list of artists excluded from public support”, said Vice Culture Minister Song Soo-keun, now acting as culture minister.

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Choi, indicted for a string of corruption allegations, has already been in custody since previous year, but has declined to answer the investigation team’s summons, citing health issues and her own trial.While Kim has consistently denied knowledge of any blacklist, Cho admits she was made aware of it past year. Cho and Kim are accused of blacklisting thousands of artists and cultural figures critical of the government to exclude them from government funding programs. Among them are novelist Han Kang, victor of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize and “Oldboy” film director Park Chan Wook, who won the Grand Prix at the Cannes film festival in 2004.Prosecutors questioned Ms Cho and Mr Kim as part of their investigation into a wider political scandal involving Ms Park and her secret confidante, Choi Soon Sil, who is on trial for abuse of power and coercion.The list’s existence has sparked widespread anger, raising the specter of Seoul’s 1960-80s army-backed rule – including under dictator Park Chung-Hee, the impeached leader’s late father – when the news, arts and entertainment were heavily censored.