7 former government officials convicted for blacklisting artists

President Park is facing charges of bribery, abuse of power and coercion.

Park Geun-hye
The seven worked for former Korean president Park Geun-hye presidential website / Korea.net

Seven former government officials who worked under former South Korean president Park Geun-hye were convicted by a Seoul court for being involving in making a blacklist of close to 10,000 artists.

The blacklist included movie directors, writers, painters, newspaper companies and publishers who were excluded from getting government grants and projects as they were described as critical of the Park administration, the Korea Times reported.

President Park was impeached by the National Assembly last December, a decision upheld by the Constitutional Court last March. She is facing charges of bribery, abuse of power and coercion.

Sentenced to three years in prison was Kim Ki-choon, Park's former chief of staff, for perjury, coercion and abuse of power. He was tagged as the one who created the blacklist.

"His action amounted to abuse of power. We found the list affected artists indirectly for a long period of time and damaged public trust in the government," said the judge in the ruling. Kim served for Park from 2013 to 2015.

The judge also pinpointed that Kim was also involved in removing the budget for the Busan International Film Festival.

Cho Yoon-sun, former head of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, was also found guilty and sentenced to one year in prison suspended for two years.

"I am glad things were cleared up for me. I will comply fully with future procedures," she said after receiving the verdict. They were arrested in January as the Park administration crumbled after she was impeached.

Others who were convicted were former culture minister Kim Jong-deok, who was sentenced to two years and Kim So-young, former presidential secretary for cultural and sports affairs, who got 18 months in prison.

Also sentenced to 18 months in prison were former senior presidential secretary Kim Sang-ryul, former vice culture minister Chung Kwan-joo and former presidential secretary for political affairs Shin Dong-chul.