Six members of ousted president Park Geun-hye’s administration were sentenced to prison on Thursday for blacklisting thousands of artists due to their political beliefs, Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times reports. The revelation of the government’s blacklist in December 2016 caused widespread public outrage that contributed to Park’s impeachment.
While investigators have not disclosed the names of the cultural figures on the list, officials estimate that at least ten thousand people were denied access to government-funded programs because they were critical of Park’s leadership. The scandal has prompted hundreds of South Korean artists to sue the former leader and her aides and has spurred politicians to call for new legislation that will protect artists from discrimination and political oppression.
Convicted for abuse of power and perjury, Kim Ki-choon, Park’s former chief of staff, was given a three-year term for ordering members of the president’s staff and ministry of culture officials to draw up the blacklist and lie about its creation. Kim Jong-deok, the former culture minister, received a two-year sentence, and three other former top aides were sentenced to one and a half years each. Another former culture minister, Cho Yoon-sun, who was convicted of perjury for lying about her knowledge of the blacklist before the National Assembly, was given a suspended prison sentence and was released from jail.
Park was officially removed from office and arrested in March. She is facing a slew of criminal charges that include accepting bribes and colluding with city officials to oppress South Koreans who did not agree with her political agenda.