Cho Yoon-sun

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Cho Yoon-sun
Korea Mexico Ministerial Meeting 07 cropped.jpg
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism
In office
5 September 2016 – 21 January 2017
Prime MinisterHwang Kyo-ahn
Preceded byKim Jong-deok
Succeeded bySong Soo-geun (Acting)
Minister of Gender Equality and Family
In office
26 February 2013 – 13 June 2014
Prime MinisterChung Hong-won
Preceded byKim Geum-rae
Succeeded byKim Hee-jeong
Senior Secretary for Political Affairs
In office
12 June 2014 – 18 May 2015
PresidentPark Geun-hye
Preceded byPark Jun-woo
Succeeded byHyun Gi-hwan
Member of the National Assembly
In office
30 May 2008 – 29 May 2010
ConstituencyProportional representation
Personal details
Born (1965-07-22) 22 July 1965 (age 55)
Seoul, South Korea
Political partySaenuri Party
Alma materSeoul National University
Columbia University
Korean name
Revised RomanizationJo Yunseon
McCune–ReischauerCho Yunsŏn

Cho Yoon-sun (born 22 July 1965) is a South Korean lawyer, writer and politician. She formerly served as the South Korean Minister of Gender Equality and Family and later as its Minister of Culture, however she was later jailed after being convicted of abuse of power and coercion.

Life and career[edit]

Cho Yoon-sun was born on 22 July 1965 in Seoul. She attended Sehwa Girls' High School, graduating in 1984, and then Seoul National University where she received her bachelor's degree in International Relations in 1988. She later went to Columbia Law School where she received her Master of Laws degree in 2001.[1]

She passed the Korean bar in 1991, and joined the Kim and Chang Law Firm where she became a partner.[1] During the 2002 South Korean presidential election she worked as a spokesperson for Lee Choi-chang of the Grand National Party.[2][3] She left Kim & Chang in 2006 to work for Citibank Korea where she became General Counsel and a managing director. She left Citibank Korea in 2008 when she was elected to the 18th South Korean National Assembly.

In 2010, together with General Baek Sun-yeop,[4] Cho helped establish the Korean War Memorial Foundation which supplies scholarships to the descendants of veterans of the Korean War. Cho served as vice-chairperson of the foundation from July 2010 to March 2013.[5] Beginning in July 2010, she acted as a goodwill ambassador for the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).[5]

In 2013, she was appointed as South Korea's Minister of Gender Equality and Family.[6] In 2014, Cho left the ministry to become President Park Geun-hye's Senior Secretary for Political Affairs.[7] However, she resigned that post in 2015 after failing to meet the president's goals for public employee pension reform.[8][9] Cho then taught for a year at Sungshin Women's University's College of Law.[10]

In August 2016, President Park appointed Cho as the new Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.[3] She resigned the post in January 2017.[11]


In both her confirmation hearings for Minister of Gender Equality and Family in 2013 and for Minister of Culture in 2016, Cho was taken to task for her lavish life-style and conspicuous consumption.[12] In 2016 her profits from real estate speculation were also an issue.[13]

In December 2016, as part of the continued investigation of corruption under President Park Geun-hye, the existence of a political blacklist of artists came to light. Cho was charged with helping to create the list, although she denied it.[14] In January 2017, Cho was arrested on corruption and perjury charges,[15][16] and she subsequently resigned as Minister of Culture.[17] In February formal indictments were issued charging her with abuse of power, coercion and perjury.[18][19] She is being represented by nine lawyers, including her attorney husband Park Seong-yeop (박성엽).[20][21][22]

On 27 July 2017, Cho was convicted of perjury for lying about the blacklist to the National Assembly. The Seoul Central District Court suspended her prison term and released her from jail the same day.[23]

On 23 January 2018, Cho was convicted of her role in drawing up plans to blacklist over 10,000 South Korean artists critical of President Park. She was arrested in the courtroom and was sentenced to two more years of prison in addition to the six months she served on the minor perjury charge from January to July 2017.[24]

In August 2018, in a separate corruption case involving funds from the National Intelligence Service, prosecutors asked the court to sentence Cho to serve six years in prison and to pay a fine of 100 million won ($90,000).[25]


Cho writes about culture in South Korea. She has published two books, and regularly writes for magazine publication.[3] Among her works are the books Meeting Opera at an Arts Gallery,[26] which was chosen by the Ministry of Culture as the Cultural Book of the Year for 2008,[27] and Culture is the Answer (2011).[28][29]


  1. ^ a b "Minister profile". ROK Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. 2015. Archived from the original on 21 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  2. ^ The Grand National Party was the former name of the Saenuri Party.
  3. ^ a b c "Park's trusted confident named new culture minister". Yonhap News Agency. 16 August 2016. Archived from the original on 21 January 2017.
  4. ^ General Baek was Chief-of-Staff of the South Korean Army (1952-1954) during the Korean War. See, e.g. Cumings, Bruce (1981). The Origins of the Korean War. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-09383-3., and again (1957-1959).
  5. ^ a b "Cho Yoon-Sun". World Economic Forum. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Park names KDI chief as deputy premier for economic affairs". Yonhap News Agency. 17 February 2013. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013.
  7. ^ Cho Chung-un (19 June 2014). "Park's new political aide faces challenges". The Korea Herald. Archived from the original on 20 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Park's aide for political affairs quits over pension reform". Yonhap News Agency. 18 May 2015. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015.
  9. ^ Yi Yong-wuk; Yu Jeong-in (19 May 2015). "Pressured Reshuffle? Cho Yoon-sun Swept away in the Wake of Failed Pension Reforms: Reason behind the Abrupt Resignation of Senior Secretary for Political Affairs". The Kyunghyang Shinmun. Archived from the original on 24 May 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Ex-Park Aide to Teach at Sungshin Women's University". The Chosunilbo. 10 September 2015. Archived from the original on 12 September 2015.
  11. ^ Jung Nok-yong (23 January 2017). "Culture Minister Resigns After Arrest". The Chosunilbo. Archived from the original on 24 January 2017.
  12. ^ Jun Ji-hye (31 August 2016). "Culture minister nominee grilled over alleged property speculation". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 1 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Budget bill feud holds back hearing". The Korea Herald. 1 September 2017. Archived from the original on 1 September 2016.
  14. ^ Kil, Sonia (10 January 2017). "Korean Minister Apologizes for Blacklisting Artists, Denies Involvement". Variety. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017.
  15. ^ "South Korea's culture minister Cho Yoon Sun arrested over arts blacklist in political scandal". The Straits Times. Reuters. 21 January 2017. Archived from the original on 21 January 2017.
  16. ^ Ko Dong-hwan (21 January 2017). "Culture minister, ex-presidential chief of staff arrested over blacklist of 'left-leaning' artists". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 21 January 2017.
  17. ^ Bernama (23 January 2017). "S Korea president Park's key aides appear before independent counsel's office". Astra Awani. Malaysia. Archived from the original on 24 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Special counsel indicts Kim, Cho over blacklist". The Korean Herald. 7 February 2017. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017.
  19. ^ "Cho Yoon-sun, Former South Korean Culture Minister, Indicted On Corruption Charges". The Huffington Post. Reuters. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017.
  20. ^ 조윤선, 구치소 방에서 생쥐 나와…"달래주느라 애먹었다". The Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). 14 April 2017. Archived from the original on 29 May 2017.
  21. ^ "From president to prisoner: Park Geun-Hye's new life behind bars". The Guardian. Agence France-Presse. 30 March 2017. Archived from the original on 19 April 2017.
  22. ^ 조윤선, 남편 포함 변호인 9명 선임… 김기춘, 6명 변호인단 꾸려 [Cho Yoon-seon, nine lawyers including husband ... Kim Ki-chun, pack up six defenders]. Koeean Law Times (in Korean). 10 February 2017. Archived from the original on 29 May 2017.
  23. ^ Sang-hun, Choe (27 July 2017). "6 Ex-Officials in South Korea Are Sentenced for Blacklisting Artists". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Former South Korean culture minister jailed over blacklist of artists deemed critical of Park Geun-hye". South China Morning Post. Agence France-Presse. 23 January 2018. Archived from the original on 23 January 2018.
  25. ^ Lee, Claire (31 August 2018). "Prosecution requests 4 years prison for ex-president's chief of staff". The Korea Herald. Archived from the original on 15 October 2018.
  26. ^ Cho, Yoon-sun (2007). 미술관에서 오페라를 만나다 오페라와 명화 [Meeting Opera at an Arts Gallery] (in Korean). Seoul: Sigongsa. ISBN 978-89-527-5040-2.
  27. ^ "Cho, Yoon-Sun". World Knowledge Forum. 2010. Archived from the original on 26 January 2017.
  28. ^ Korean title is "문화가 답이다", ISBN 978-89-527-6353-2
  29. ^ Kim In-eop (19 August 2016). 조윤선: 박 대통령이 3번 발탁한 '朴의 여자' [Cho Yoon-sun: President Park's third appointment of 'Park's woman']. Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). Archived from the original on 19 August 2016.