SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- A grim-faced Park Geun-hye was sent to a detention facility early Friday after a court approved her arrest on a string of charges of bribery, coercion, abuse of power and disclosure of state secrets.
Born in 1952, Park moved into the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, in early 1964, shortly after her father Park Chung-hee took office following a military coup he staged in 1961.
The Army general-turned-president has since been praised for achieving rapid industrialization and economic development in the aftermath of the 1950-53 Korean War, but also resented by critics for his brutal suppression of democracy.
In August 1974 her mother, Yook Young-su, was killed in a bungled assassination attempt on her father by a pro-Pyongyang ethnic-Korean man from Japan. She spent the next five years serving as the acting first lady until her father was gunned down by his intelligence chief in 1979.
Park met Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of the ongoing corruption scandal, after her mother's death. Choi's father, Choi Tae-min, known as a religious cult leader, was Park's mentor at that time. Park then headed a group founded by the elder Choi and the Choi family amassed wealth using their ties to Park.
After spending the next 18 years out of the public eye, Park entered political life in 1997, when she joined the conservative Grand National Party (GNP), now the pro-government Liberty Korea Party.
The following April, she won a legislative seat in her hometown of Daegu and soon rose to the top ranks of her party.
When her demands for political reform were rejected by the party in 2001, she defected to form a new party. Park later rejoined the GNP after many of her earlier reform demands were met, and went on to prove her leadership ability with a series of upset victories in parliamentary elections, earning her the nickname, "queen of elections."
She first ran for the presidency in 2007 but was defeated by Lee Myung-bak in the party's primary. She was elected in 2012 as the nation's first female president on her reputation as a politician who values principle and trust and public nostalgia for the era of her father, who achieved remarkable economic growth.
For the past five months, her presidency was paralyzed by the massive corruption and influence-peddling case involving her close friend Choi.
The scandal, which first emerged through a media report in July, gained the full spotlight in late October when the local cable network JTBC disclosed the contents of a tablet PC allegedly used by Choi.
The device contained a series of files that revealed the nitty-gritty of the scandal, which sent Park's approval ratings into a tailspin, left her leadership in tatters and sparked nationwide protests calling for her departure from office.
Park is alleged to have allowed Choi -- without any government post or security clearance -- to meddle in important state affairs and colluded with Choi in extorting money and favors from local conglomerates, such as Samsung Group. Both have denied the accusations.
Her presidency came to a halt some 11 months before the end of her five-year term, when the Constitutional Court upheld her impeachment by parliament on March 10.