Historically, the ties between the South Korean government and the big conglomerates in the country, known as ‘chaebol’, are close. These close relationships are now questioned as ex-President Park Guen-hye is arrested in the corruption scandal involving Samsung.

Park was arrested last Friday on allegations of corruption and abuse of power. According to the Asia Nikkei Review, she admitted to have pressured the National Pension Service to back a merger between two Samsung Group affiliated companies. The National Pension Service is a major shareholder in the Samsung Group. In return for this support, Samsung allegedly donated 20.4 billion won to two foundations controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a long-term friend of Park. Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics, Lee Jae-yong, was arrested last month.

Close relations between the South Korean government and large conglomerates in the country are not new. Many ex-presidents have been accused of bribery and corruption. Park is the first democratically elected president to be indicted.

There are more and more calls for greater transparency and the current corruption case could be an opportunity to break up the close ties between big business and the government in South Korea.

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