시사 in 사진
Who are the Chois?
Park's relationship with Choi and her father Choi Tae-min has long been controversial in Korea.
The elder Choi first became close with Park following the death of her mother at the hands of a North Korean assassin in 1974, while Park's father, dictator Park Chung-hee, was president.
According to the Korea Times, Choi founded the Eternal Life Church in the 1970s, mixing aspects Christianity, Buddhism and indigenous Korean religion Cheondism, which incorporates elements of shamanism.
Choi named himself a modern day Buddha and called for all people to strive for eternal life.
A confidential 2007 US diplomatic cable, published by Wikileaks, referenced rumors that Choi had "complete control over Park's body and soul during her formative years and that his children accumulated enormous wealth as a result."
After Park's father was assassinated in 1979 by the then director of the Korean equivalent of the CIA, his killer cited Choi's relationship with the younger Park as one of the reasons.
Even members of Park's family expressed concern. Her younger sister Guen-ryong and brother Ji-man filed a petition in 1990 to then-President Roh Tae-woo expressing concerns that Choi was manipulating Park.
By James Griffiths, CNN Updated 0938 GMT (1738 HKT) December 9, 2016
The woman at the centre of South Korea's political crisis, Choi Soon-sil, has appeared in court, where she denied charges of corruption.
Ms Choi was a close confidante of impeached President Park Geun-hye.
Prosecutors say Ms Choi used their relationship to pressure companies to donate to two foundations, and siphoned off money for personal use.
The case has prompted nationwide outrage and a vote by parliament earlier this month to impeach Ms Park.
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'Calm and collected'
Ms Choi's appearance in court, for a preliminary hearing before her trial begins, was the first time she had been seen in public since October.
Though she was not required to attend the hearing, her lawyers said she had volunteered to appear.
They said she wanted the truth to emerge with clarity, and that she denied all charges.
Ms Choi said: "I'm sorry for causing trouble. I'll faithfully engage in [my] trial."
The BBC's Stephen Evans, in Seoul, said she appeared calm and collected in court.
BBC NEWS 19 December 2016
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