Park Geun Hye made the transition completely on Friday from former President of South Korea to a jail bird.
The former President was jailed Friday over allegations that she colluded with a confidante to extort money from businesses, take bribes and allow the friend to unlawfully interfere with state affairs.
It was a devastating blow to South Korea’s first female President which followed a downward spiral that saw a Constitutional Court ruling on March 10 to remove her from office after being impeached in December.
The arrest followed a marathon hearing on Thursday, and the court said in a statement that her arrest was necessitated by a number of factors;
“It is justifiable and necessary to arrest (Park) as key charges were justified and there is risk of evidence being destroyed,”
As odd as the sudden change of status of Park Geun Hye from President to a prisoner may seem like in this part of the world, the 65-year-old former leader is only the third former leader to be arrested over corruption in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
While being taken to the Seoul Detention Centre shortly before dawn on Friday, Park Geun Hye was seen visibly struggling to maintain her composure as her opponents cheered and her supporters cried.
It is expected that the former President will be incarcerated in a solitary cell where she will be treated like every other prisoner minus the perks of a slightly larger cell and a toilet and shower in an adjoining room, rather than within her cell.
She will, however, be subjected to all the other rules in the prison like cell inspections and heavily scheduled activities with no preferential treatment whatsoever. Meanwhile, investigations into her will continue as prosecutors exercise their right to detain her for up to 20 days without a charge during which they are expected to formally charge her.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of supporters of Park Geun Hye took to the streets waving the national flag and shouting military-style slogans, rallying for her to be released.
They gathered in streets near Seoul City Hall and chanted “Release President Park Geun Hye” and “Disband the National Assembly” and roared in approval as organizers accused Park’s political rivals as “leftist North Korea sympathizers” and “turncoats.”
Opponents also held their own protests in nearby streets, celebrating her arrest and calling for her conservative policies to be erased. Seoul police had to use thousands of police officers and hundreds of buses to separate the two crowds, whose rallies have divided the city’s streets in recent months.