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[Anchor Lead]

And so we begin with the most important story of 2016, utterly captivating in Korea and eye-popping around the world: the influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye’s long-time personal confidant Choi Soon-sil. The scandal has come down to mass public demonstrations and the impeachment of the president.

[Pkg]

Choi Soon-sil’s name first appeared inthe news back in September in reports about the background behind the establishment of the Mi-R and K-Sports foundations.Those reported were followed bybombshell news that Choi even wrotespeeches for President Park and hadaccess to the nation’s highly classified information. The scandal has triggeredenormous anger from the Korean public.

[Soundbite] Park Geun-hye(President) : “Choi Soon-sil helped me when I was having a hard time in the past. When I was running for president, she provided mewith her advice on my speeches and election campaign.”

The prosecutors also arrested toppresidential aides who were allegedlyimplicated in the influence-peddlingscandal, such as Ahn Chong-bum andChung Ho-sung. Their arrest warrantsstated that President Park was anaccomplice. President Park refused to undergo aninvestigation. In her third publicaddress on November 29 she asked theNational Assembly to decide on her fate. On December 9, the National Assemblyapproved the impeachment motion against Park, with 234 lawmakers voting in favor of her impeachment.

[Soundbite] Chung Se-kyun(Nat’l Assembly Speaker) : “I declare the impeachment motionagainst President Park Geun-hye approved.”

The scandal has spread to various sectors of society including culture andentertainment, especially after itbecame known that Choi Soon-sil’sdaughter, Chung Yoo-ra, was accepted to a university illegally. The National Assembly grilled nine heads of family-owned conglomerates including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong over their ties to the government.

[Soundbite] Lee Jae-yong(Vice Chairman, Samsung Electronics