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The essence of the scandal is this: It has emerged that Park, notoriously aloof even to her top aides, has been taking private counsel from Choi Soon-sil, a woman she’s known for four decades. Despite having no official position and no security clearance, Choi seems to have advised Park on everything from her wardrobe to speeches about the dream of reunification with North Korea.
originally posted by: bananasam
Because many companies in Korea are chaebols...
A chaebol (Korean: 재벌, from chae "wealth or property" + bol "faction or clan" – also written with the same Chinese characters 財閥 as Zaibatsu) is a South Korean form of business conglomerate. They are typically global multinationals and own numerous international enterprises, controlled by a chairman with power over all the operations. The term is often used in a context similar to that of the English word "conglomerate". The term was first used in 1984. There are several dozen large Korean family-controlled corporate groups which fall under this definition. Source
SEOUL, South Korea — South Koreans have been riveted for weeks by a scandal involving the president and a shadowy adviser accused of being a “shaman fortuneteller” by opposition politicians. The elusive figure, Choi Soon-sil, is a private citizen with no security clearance, yet she had remarkable influence over President Park Geun-hye: She was allowed to edit some of Ms. Park’s most important speeches. The news channel Chosun showed video of presidential aides kowtowing to her after she apparently gave them orders. She apparently had an advance copy of the president’s itinerary for an overseas trip, the TV station said.
But for most South Koreans, the real drama is that Ms. Choi is the daughter of a religious figure whose relationship with Ms. Park had long been the subject of lurid rumors. The figure, Choi Tae-min, was often compared to Rasputin here, and now critics say his daughter is playing the same role. Mr. Choi was the founder of an obscure sect called the Church of Eternal Life. He befriended Ms. Park, 40 years his junior, soon after her mother was assassinated in 1974.
In a 2007 diplomatic cable made public through WikiLeaks, the American Embassy in Seoul reported rumors that Mr. Choi “had complete control over Park’s body and soul during her formative years and that his children accumulated enormous wealth as a result.” One such tale held that Ms. Park, who has never married, had his child. (She has denied that.)
The emergence of Choi as a powerful figure in Korean politics shines a light on the continuing influence of cults and mysticism in the country. While Christianity and Buddhism are officially the two biggest religions, Choi’s religious universe is a syncretic one, mixing the two religions with many shades of magical shamanism, or Muism. The roughly 20,000 Korean shamans—a mostly female group formally acknowledged by the authorities which also has its own union, known as Kyongsing, or “belief”—are believed to be able to bridge this world and that of the spirits, a power that seems to have ensnared Park.