DAVID GREENE, HOST:
A political scandal like South Korea has never seen is putting the president's job in jeopardy. It's all because of her ties to a spiritual adviser who may have been meddling in state affairs. NPR's Elise Hu reports from Seoul.
ELISE HU, BYLINE: As many as 30,000 people flooded into Seoul's downtown this weekend to demand South Korean President Park Geun-hye step down. Park has only one year left in her term, but she's at the center of a scandal that's paralyzed the country.
JOUNG HWANG: How was this kept such a big secret for four years?
HU: Joung Hwang is a law professor at Korea's Hankuk University. The secret he's talking about is new information that the president's old friend, who has no official ties to government, has been calling the shots behind the scenes. Her family, which is linked to a shamanistic cult, befriended Park in the 1970s.
HWANG: This is basically a kind of witch who has bewitched our president and has managed to just run the state affairs.
HU: A discarded hard drive prosecutors believe belongs to the spiritual adviser, Choi Soon-sil, showed dozens of drafts of presidential speeches with her edits. Investigators are also looking into whether she used her influence to collect millions in donations from major companies for her personal use. The president last week addressed the scandal in a national address.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT PARK GEUNHYE: (Foreign language spoken).
HU: "I'm very sorry for causing concern, shocking and hurting the people," Park said. Choi was mobbed by so many reporters when she appeared for questioning in Seoul on Monday that she twice fell and lost a shoe. Choi could face charges of embezzlement, tax evasion and acquiring classified information. The president has said nothing else, as her approval rating plummets to 10 percent and calls for her resignation get louder. Joung Hwang.
HWANG: I don't expect president Park to step down on her own. She's very obstinate like that.
HU: The pressure on President Park shows no signs of letting up. Elise Hu, NPR News, Seoul.
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