Former President Park Geun-hye arrived for questioning Tuesday as prosecutors probe 13 charges against the country’s first democratically elected leader to be expelled from office.
Engulfed by a corruption scandal since late last year, Park’s parliamentary impeachment was upheld by the country’s Constitutional Court earlier this month.
The court’s decision removed presidential immunity that had allowed Park to evade investigators amid allegations of bribery, power abuse and leaking confidential documents.
“I’m sorry,” Park told reporters at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office as she promised to cooperate with investigations.
Her apology echoed previous statements and was largely for public consumption, while the atmosphere surrounding the office was a blend of support and opposition.
Pro-Park demonstrators have become increasingly vocal following months of large street demonstrations that have demanded her resignation.
Approximately 2,000 police officers were on standby to prevent clashes.
It is unclear whether prosecutors will seek an arrest warrant for the ex-president alongside other detained figures involved in the scandal, including Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong.
Park’s interrogation could last well into the night.
Opposition parties jostling for advantage ahead of a snap election May 9 to replace Park have called on her to reveal the truth.
Meanwhile, North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency pulled no punches Tuesday, describing the ousted leader as a “dictator” who had been already judged by history.