Former Culture Minister Jailed For 2 Years Following Blacklist

Tiffany Chung, Jan. 24, 2018, 10:23 a.m.

An appeals court on Tuesday sentenced former culture minister Cho Yoon-sun to two years in jail for her part in drawing up and applying a secret blacklist of artists and cultural figures considered hostile to ex-President Park Geun-hye. Cho, who had been let off with a suspended sentence at first instance, shook her head in disbelief when the sentence was delivered.

She was indicted in January last year for complicity in drawing up the list when she was Park's secretary for political affairs and using it to deprive artists on the blacklist of public grants and otherwise disadvantaging them. But in July the court of first instance found her innocent of involvement and only guilty of perjury before the National Assembly, where she at first denied knowing anything about the list.

Her predecessor as secretary for political affairs, Park Joon-woo, testified in court that he did not remember whether he transferred the task of creating the blacklist to Cho, and Cheong Wa Dae staffers said they did not tell her about the list.

But in the appeals trial Park Joon-woo recanted his previous testimony and said he told Cho to "take care of" the list, since the president and presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon were very keen on the matter. Another factor that put her behind bars was a cache of documents unearthed at Cheong Wa Dae by the current administration, which showed Kim handing out orders to Cho involving the blacklist.

Cho's husband and lawyer Park Seong-yeop said he will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The appeals court also sentenced Kim to four years behind bars, overturning the lower court's three-year sentence. Kim, a faithful Rottweiler to the Park family, made a tearful plea in which he portrayed himself as a frail old man with an afflicted family, but to no avail.

The court increased Kim's jail term because he forced out Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism staff who were reluctant to enforce the blacklist.

The appeals court also ruled that the ex-president was complicit in the compilation of the blacklist, saying she continued to be briefed when blacklisted artists were cut off from public support programs and even directly intervened with instructions on individual cases.

There were more than 1,000 artists, filmmakers and others on the blacklist. Cho, a former lawyer, was at one time a respected writer on the arts and is the author of a book ironically titled "Culture Is the Answer."

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