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Korean Culture Minister Arrested in Talent Blacklist Case

Variety logo Variety 1/21/2017 Patrick Frater
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South Korea’s Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun is to be arrested in connection with the blacklisting of 9,000 artistes.

An arrest warrant, citing abuse of authority, was issued on Saturday morning local time by the Seoul Central District Court following a request from a team of special prosecutors investigating the blacklist. Cho recently acknowledged the existence of the list, but denied that she had authorized it.

The list punished political opponents of the now impeached President Park Geun-hye by denying them state funding. Cultural industry personnel on the list included filmmakers Park Chan-wook (“The Handmaiden”), Bong Joon-ho (“Snowpiercer”) and actor Song Kang-ho (“The Age of Shadows”).

The court also issued an arrest warrant for Kim Ki-choon, Park’s former chief of staff. He appeared in court Friday accused of creating the blacklist. Prosecutors argued in court on Friday that Kim and Choi needed to be detained in order to prevent them destroying evidence.

Earlier in the week, special prosecutors were told that CJ Group, parent of Korea’s largest films group, was pressured by the Park government into making a series of patriotic movies. Park herself called in CJ Group chairman Sohn Kyung-shik for a meeting in Nov 2014 and told him that CJ’s films and TV shows such as “Masquerade” and “SNL Korea” had been anti-government. Sohn reportedly promised a change of direction with nationalist titles such as “Roaring Currents,” “Ode To My Father” and “Operation Chromite” prioritized instead.

In connection with the same matter, prosecutors were told that senior presidential economic advisor Cho Won-dong forced the resignation in 2013 of interim CJ Group vice chairwoman Lee Mi-kyung (aka Miky Lee) over CJ Entertainment’s choice of film productions.

A court this week rejected prosecutor’s request for the arrest of Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong. Although the cases are separate, the families that rule the Samsung and and CJ Group conglomerates are closely related. Miky Lee and her brother Lee Jae-yong established CJ Entertainment in 1995.

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