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Park Geun-hye, former president of South Korea, is escorted by a prison officer as she arrives at the Seoul Central District Court on July 27, 2017. Photo: Seong Joon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s former president and the first in the country's history to be impeached, was sentenced to 24 years in prison last week and fined $16 million for charges of corruption, as the Korean public watched the verdict broadcast live. Park once enjoyed the honor of being not only Korea's first female president but also the daughter of a former president, Park Chung-hee.

Why it matters: The imprisonment of Park, a conservative, furthers a historic leftward shift in Korea. Long dominated by the right, the political landscape is now being seized by progressives. We can expect the battle between the opposing forces to intensify as the two sides confront each other on issues such as North Korea and the U.S.–ROK alliance.

Conservatism has ruled national politics in Korea since the establishment of the Republic in 1948. But Park is now the second conservative president to be jailed; her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, was arrested on multiple corruption charges. With the liberal Moon government, only the third progressive administration in Korea's history, in power, conservatives have been left in disarray.

What's next: Park has been boycotting her court trials, dismissing them as “political retaliation,” and it remains to be seen whether she will appeal the ruling. Lee's trials are also set to begin soon.

Gi-Wook Shin is chair of Korean Studies at Stanford University, director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Go deeper

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.

2 hours ago - World

Mapped: The world's most and least corrupt countries

Expand chart
Data: Transparency International; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The most corrupt governments in the world are in South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, according to Transparency International's annual index, while the "cleanest" are in Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

  • Breaking it down: The U.S. is 27th, China 66th, India 85th, Brazil 96th and Russia 136th. Scroll over the map to see each country's ranking.

Crypto leads to massive surge in online scams

Expand chart
Reproduced from FTC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Bogus cryptocurrency investments led to an unprecedented increase in online scams last year, according to new data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Why it matters: Cryptocurrency is an easy target because while it's surging in popularity, there's still a lot of confusion about how it works.