South Korea’s Envoy to Burma Summoned Home

By The Irrawaddy 1 February 2017

Rangoon — Burma has surfaced in the latest news headlines relating to the massive corruption scandal that has gripped South Korea over recent months.

South Korea’s ambassador to Burma Yoo Jae-kyung was summoned home to address questions over alleged links with Choi Soon-sil, confidante of President Park Geun-hye, Korean media reported this week.

President Park Geun-hye is currently suspended from duties amid impeachment proceedings over alleged corruption, centering around her relationship with Choi Soon-sil who is accused of influence-peddling and extortion.

Among the latest developments, Choi Soon-sil is alleged to have sought personal gain through an unidentified company connected to a Korean government-backed development assistance project in Burma, prosecutors said in Seoul on Monday.

The mooted US$65 million project in north Rangoon called Myanmar K-Town was initially spearheaded jointly by the foreign and trade ministries [of Korea], but in the second half of 2016 the project was scrapped under the aegis of overseas aid agency KOICA, due to a lack of viability, according to The Korea Times.

Korean media reported that prosecutors said on Tuesday that Ambassador Yoo Jae-kyung told investigators that Choi Soon-sil had tapped the former Samsung executive for the diplomatic appointment in around March last year. The appointment was announced in late May.

Prosecutors in the ongoing corruption probes are also investigating whether big businesses including Samsung were pressured to donate to foundations backing the president’s policy initiatives.

President Park Geun-hye and Choi Soon-il have denied all wrongdoing.

A spokesperson for the South Korean embassy in Rangoon confirmed that the ambassador had traveled to Korea but was not authorized to provide further information.