Park is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, the former military general who seized power in 1963 and served as South Korea's strongman president for nearly two decades. The harshness of the sentence is likely to deepen divisions in a country still wrestling with the aftermath of the most serious political turmoil in years.
Park, who was South Korea's first female president, was also convicted of abusing her power to dismiss and appoint civil officers and blacklisting artists and cultural figures critical of her administration.
The heads of conglomerates involved in the scandal have also been jailed.
The leader was, however, conspicuous by her absence at the court since she boycotted the trial accusing to be biased against her.
Of the 18 charges of corruption and power abuse the prosecution had levied against Park, who did not attend the sentencing, the court found her guilty of 16.
According to The Guardian, the former president was sentenced on Friday, April 6, although she was not present at the ruling citing sickness. "Yet she has not showed much sign of remorse and kept blaming Choi and her aides", Kim said.
Along with the prison sentence, Park was fined more than $16 million.
Prosecutors accused Park of colluding with Choi to receive 7 billion won from Lotte Group for favours, while pressuring big businesses to bankroll non-profit foundations run by Choi's family and confidants.
Some of their placards read: "Reinstate President Park immediately" and "Release the most innocent President Park Geun-hye immediately". Park Geun-hye returns from Paris, where she had been studying, and begins serving as acting first lady. There were no immediate reports of major clashes or injuries.
Park was South Korea's first female head of state and the first elected leader to be ousted when she was impeached a year ago.
South Korea's first President Syngman Rhee, from 1948-1960, embraced authoritarianism and clung to power through rigged elections and corruption, critics say. But he's also remembered for imprisoning and torturing dissidents. She left the presidential mansion in 1979 after her father was gunned down by his own intelligence chief during a late-night drinking party. "Given her attitude and public anger over her scandal that remains raw, it will be hard to create a political environment in favour of her release anytime soon".
2012: Park wins the presidency by defeating her main liberal rival, Moon Jae-in.
Choi's father Choi Tae Min was described by a United States diplomat as a Korean Rasputin who had "complete control over Park's body and soul".
A Seoul TV station had also obtained Choi's tablet computer containing many confidential presidential documents, including drafts of Park's speeches. She has previously maintained her innocence. An arrest warrant was issued for Park shortly after she was removed from office.
The presidential Blue House said in a statement after the verdict: "Each person must have different feelings about former President Park Geun-Hye".
Apparently this was as a result of a scandal that exposed webs of corruption between political leaders and the country bigwigs.
Her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, was arrested last month on a raft of corruption allegations, including bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion.
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