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3. Inquiry held without Choi soon-sil

South Korean lawmakers have held a second round of parliamentary hearings in the influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend. They questioned key figures.

But Choi soon-sil, who is at the center of the scandal, did not attend, citing health problems.

Fourteen people took the witness stand during the inquiry on Wednesday at the National Assembly.

Video director Cha Eun-taek, who is charged with abuse of power and coercion, suggested Choi soon-sil had a powerful influence over President Park.

Cha said he has no idea whether Choi manipulated the president but he was surprised at the power she had.

Chang Si-ho, a niece of Choi soon-sil, was arrested last month on charges of embezzling funds from a sports foundation she allegedly controlled.

Chang said that on the instruction of her aunt, she proposed to the then-vice minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism that the foundation be established. She added that she couldn't oppose Choi's demands.

Former top presidential aide Kim Ki-choon said he did not know Choi. To prove his point he said he never contacted her.

Kim also suggested he had limited opportunities to meet with the president, saying that sometimes he didn't meet her for a week. He suggested that the president was reluctant to receive direct reports from her aides.
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