Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye apologised to the country on Tuesday as she arrived at the prosecutors' offices for questioning as a criminal suspect in a widening corruption investigation that has already cost her the presidency.
Speaking at the steps of the prosecutors' office building, Park addressed the public for the first time since she was dismissed on 10 March.
“I am sorry to the people. I will faithfully cooperate with questioning,” said the 65-year-old, who became South Korea’s first democratically elected president to be removed from office when the Constitutional Court upheld her impeachment by parliament in December.
She has been accused of colluding with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations that backed her policy initiatives.
Park has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged in the case. Choi has also denied wrongdoing.
However, Park lost her presidential immunity when she was dismissed and could face more than 10 years in jail if convicted of receiving bribes from bosses of big conglomerates, including Samsung Group chief Jay Y Lee, in return for favours.
Park's fate and the widening corruption investigation have gripped the country at a time of rising tension with North Korea and China.
Hundreds of Park's flag-waving supporters gathered outside her home in Seoul's upmarket Gangnam district to see her off.
Television cameras followed her as she was driven to the prosecutors' office in a black sedan, a few minutes away from her home, escorted by police who cleared the road.
Earlier, media saw Park's hairdresser arriving at her home. She was dressed in a dark navy coat and trouser suit with grey shoes, and looked serious as she stood on the lower steps of the prosecutors' offices to deliver her brief remarks.
(The article has been edited for length.)