SEOUL — One of the most-wanted figures in the influence-peddling scandal that led to President Park Geun-hye’s parliamentary impeachment last month has been detained by Danish police, South Korean officials said on Monday.
The suspect, Chung Yoo-ra — the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, the longtime confidante of Park who is at the center of the scandal — has been living in hiding in Europe, ignoring repeated calls from South Korean investigators to return home to face criminal charges.
Her mother, Choi, has been indicted on charges of using her influence with Park to extort tens of millions of dollars from big businesses.
Park herself has been identified as a criminal accomplice in Choi’s alleged extortion racket and is now on trial at the Constitutional Court, which will decide whether she should be formally removed from office.
But Chung, 20, has been elusive. Last month, a special prosecutor asked authorities in Germany, where Chung, a former member of South Korea’s national equestrian team, had been training, to detain and extradite her.
Chung was holed up with her infant son, a nanny, and two male guardians in a house in the northern Danish city of Aalborg when local authorities found her Sunday night, said the South Korean news channel JTBC, which was at the scene when she was apprehended. It said its reporters first alerted authorities to her whereabouts.
Chung was accused of illegally enrolling in Ewha Womans University in Seoul in 2015, using her mother’s political connections to force the elite school to accept her despite poor qualifications. The special prosecutor is also looking into accusations that Choi used millions of dollars from Samsung, South Korea’s largest conglomerate, to finance her daughter’s equestrian career and a luxurious lifestyle in Germany.