South Korean president Park Geun-Hye (pictured above) sacked her prime minister Hwang Kyo-ahn and two other cabinet ministers on Wednesday while grappling with the fallout of allowing a close friend to interfere in state affairs for years. Kim Byong-joon is expected to take over as prime minister and Yim Jong-yong will be the country's new finance minister and deputy prime minister. However, opposition said Park was simply trying to divert attention from the scandal by reshuffling her cabinet.
The friend, who is accused of acting as the country’s "shadow president", was jailed on Tuesday under the country's emergency detention laws. Choi Soon-sil was detained and questioned for hours on Monday night. After the interrogation, prosecutors said she was "unstable", reported Al Jazeera.
"There is a possibility of Choi trying to destroy evidence as she is denying all the allegations. She is also in an extremely unstable psychological state, and it's possible an unexpected event could occur if she is released," a prosecution official had said.
Choi has been friends with Park for more than 40 years. Apart from being involved in state affairs without holding a government post, she is also accused of using her influence to extort $69 million (Rs 460 crore approximately) from top corporate houses as donations for her two foundations, reported The New York Times. Prosecutors also conducted raids at eight banks to collect information on the financial transactions with which Choi was involved.
After scores of people protested against the scandal and demanded Park's resignation, she issued a public apology and carried out a partial rejig of the key aides who are accused of being linked to Choi.