South Korean Culture Minister Resigns After Arrest Over Blacklist

The minister was arrested along with other officials connected to the blacklist.

South Korea's Culture Minister Cho Yoon-Sun arriving in court in Seoul on January 20, 2017. Photo courtesy Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images.

South Korean culture minister Cho Yoon-sun resigned from her post on Saturday, January 21, after being arrested in Seoul for allegedly creating a blacklist of artists in order to deny them access to government resources and place them under government surveillance.

Cho’s arrest came after a warrant was issued by the Seoul Central District Court for abuse of authority and perjury. The warrant confirmed the existence of a blacklist, and detailed the court’s fear that accused parties may try to destroy evidence.

Reported in December as containing the names of around 9,000 artists, writers, and entertainment figures who were critical of President Park Geun-hye, AFP now reports the number as closer to 10,000.

Park, the country’s first female president, was voted by the National Assembly to be impeached in December and currently awaits the final decision by the Constitutional Court.

The former culture minister was a loyalist of Park. She initially denied writing a blacklist, although suspicions of her involvement were already raised this past December, when investigators began questioning certain government officials on the subject, and raiding their homes and offices.

Also arrested was Kim Ki-choon, who was accused of ordering Cho to create the blacklist. Kim is a former chief staffer who also worked for Park’s father, the former president Park Chung-hee who was assassinated in 1979. Under Park Chung-hee, Kim served as an intelligence official and was accused of involvement in human rights abuses.

The blacklist is said to comprise artists who had supported opposition parties, or had criticized either Park or her father.

More than 12 former officials and aides have been arrested already in connection to the list, as part of the larger investigation into Park and her confidante Choi Soon-sil, who stands accused of abuse of power and coercion.

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