S. Korean investigators look into alleged artist blacklist

South Korean investigators on Thursday summoned the country’s ambassador to France as they widened their inquiry into a corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye to include allegations that her administration blacklisted thousands of artists for their political beliefs.

The special prosecution team was planning to question Mo Chul-min over a supposed blacklist of some 9,000 artists who were deemed unfriendly to Park’s administration and allegedly denied government support. Mo served as Park’s senior secretary for education and culture in 2013 and 2014.

South Korea’s opposition-controlled parliament on Dec. 9 voted to impeach Park over a corruption scandal, weeks after state prosecutors accused her of colluding with a longtime confidante to extort money and favors from companies and allow the friend to interfere with government affairs.

Park’s political turmoil came after years of frustration over her heavy-handed leadership style that critics blamed for setbacks in freedom of speech. Her government pushed to dissolve a leftist party and arrested union leaders, while journalists were pressured with legal and other threats.

Artists have complained about censorship. In 2014, organizers of the Busan International Film Festival clashed with the city’s mayor who unsuccessfully tried to block a documentary on a ferry sinking earlier that year that killed more than 300 people, a disaster partially blamed on government incompetence and corruption. The mayor of Gwangju recently admitted he was pressured by the…

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