South Korean prosecutors to question President Park Geun-hye

"I am sorry that I caused concern to the people of our nation, caught them by surprise and hurt their feelings", she said, after acknowledging her ties to Choi.

The investigators will also probe claims that the president's former aides leaked presidential documents, including confidential information, to Ms Choi and her associates.The investigation will be carried out by a team of more than 60 prosecutors and investigators, which will have up to four months to complete its work.

For the third Saturday in a row, South Koreans turned out en masse in central Seoul, demonstrating within earshot of the presidential Blue House and calling on Park to step down.

Prosecutors are pushing to complete any investigation into Park this week because of the upcoming expiry of Choi's legal detention period. In a sign she meant to stay, Ms Park said she's trying to fulfill her responsibilities as president and put government affairs back on track.

Prosecutors are also investigating Choi who is alleged to have exercised a "cult-like" influence over Park.Choi is accused of meddling in state affairs, even though she had no government title or security clearance. Choi, who was detained last week, is accused of trying to extract large amount of money from the countrys companies and is under arrest on charges of fraud and abuse of power.

It seems that the prosecution summoned them, instead of opting for document-based investigation, in view of the public sentiment surrounding the Choi Soon-sil scandal.

The lawyer told reporters that questioning should be kept to a minimum and that he needed time to look into the case. South Korea's constitution gives presidents immunity from prosecution. She has defied calls to step down, apparently wanting to hold on until her term ends in February 2018.

In a Realmeter poll released Monday, Moon was narrowly ahead of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the leading contender to become the next president. While Ban has not announced his candidacy, he has been touted as a potential contender for Saenuri. Mr Moon was at Saturday's protest, saying he wanted to send "a stern warning" to Ms Park and her party.

Ahn Cheol-soo, founder of the People's Party, went onto the streets on Saturday to seek signatures for a petition calling on Park to resign. The three parties together hold 288 seats in the National Assembly. Prosecutors trust she advanced herself to the tune of millions by hawking her closeness to and impact over Park.

A Korean Air Lines spokesman confirmed that Cho Yang-ho, who is chairman of Hanjin and South Korea's largest airline, had appeared for questioning but did not elaborate further. In the summer of 1987, millions rallied in Seoul and other cities for weeks before the then-military government caved in to demands for free presidential elections.

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