'Boy Toy,' Puppy Helped Bring Down S. Korea's Leader

Whistleblower in Park Geun-hye case says her secret adviser fought with him over dog
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2016 9:33 AM CST
'Boy Toy,' Puppy Helped Bring Down S. Korea's Leader
In this Feb. 16, 2016, file photo, South Korean President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)

The impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, and the scandal surrounding it, all comes down to a canine. Park's downfall started over ties with Choi Soon-sil, a close friend for decades embroiled in criminal controversies and secretly advising Park—and who got into an argument with the eventual whistleblower over her daughter's pup, the New York Times reports. Ko Young-tae relayed his story at a parliamentary hearing last week, noting he and Choi got into a tiff after she discovered the dog, which he'd been asked to walk, alone in his apartment while he was out golfing. He says that after they exchanged words, he decided to come forward with what he knew about Choi and Park. Ko, 40, an ex-member of the nation's fencing team and called Choi's "boy toy," had worked at a Seoul "host bar," where male workers entertain female customers with conversation and sexual services.

The Korea Times says he reportedly met Choi at one of those bars in 2006, though he testified last week he'd been introduced to her by a pal in 2012 (and he denied at last week's hearing they were ever a couple, per the BBC). Regardless of how they met or their official status, their relationship allowed him to reportedly get his hands on Park's clothing choices for a trip overseas, as well as videotape of Choi ordering two presidential aides around; he turned that footage over to a Korean cable network, which aired it in October. "She insulted me and acted as if her underlings were subhuman," he said in his testimony, adding that after the dog fight, she "treated me like a slave, swearing at me many times," per the BBC. Some of his compatriots say Ko is a national hero for his revelations. "You opened Pandora's box," one lawmaker said during the hearing. (More South Korea stories.)

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