Choi Soon-sil, the central figure of the influence-peddling scandal and confidant of former President Park Geun-hye, was shaken, Friday, after she became aware of the unanimous ruling by the Constitutional Court that permanently removed Park from power.
According to Yonhap News Agency, Choi was inside a courtroom at the Seoul Central District Court to attend an ongoing criminal trial at 11:21 a.m. when the Constitutional Court acting President Lee Jung-mi read the ruling.
The news was shared by one of the prosecutors sitting opposite to Choi. “The Constitutional Court just announced that President Park Geun-hye has been removed from office. Now it would be proper to refer to her as a former President,” he was quoted as saying.
According to her defense attorney, Choi was already aware of the ruling before the prosecutor’s announcement as he told her about the news after receiving a mobile news alert.
While Choi tried to maintain calm by refusing to show any expressions of shock or dismay, she drank a bottle of water, indicating her anxiety over what she thought was an “unexpected decision,” according to the agency.
The attorney said Choi did not make any response, but seemed understandably upset by the ruling. “She just kept silent. Of course she should be distraught and in shock, no doubt,” the attorney said.
Meanwhile, Choi’s niece Jang Si-ho, who is also standing trial alongside Choi and former vice culture minister Kim Chong, was not as upset.
Unlike Choi, who was obviously stopping herself from frowning, Jang sometimes smiled, talking to her defense attorney.
Both Kim Chong and former presidential secretary An Chong-bum, who attended the hearing as witnesses, showed no reaction.
Meanwhile, An reiterated his earlier stance on the witness stand that he was telling the truth to the court.
When a prosecutor asked him whether he had lied during the court proceedings, out of pressure given the gravity and scope of the scandal, he said no.
“I decided from the outset that I should tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth as I was aware of the significance of this trial,” An said.