For decades, South Korean leaders such as ousted former President Park Geun-hye and those in their orbits have endured criminal inquiries, embarrassing scandals, even prison time.
It’s almost a rite of passage in this relatively young democracy.
Since the mid-1990s, two former leaders received lengthy prison sentences. Another committed suicide by jumping into a ravine after questioning by prosecutors. Still others have left under clouds of suspicion about corruption among relatives or friends.
Few have escaped untarnished by scandal — both a testament to the country’s struggles with corruption and also perhaps to its burgeoning commitment to the rule of...