Prosecutors in South Korea arrested the country's culture minister on Saturday (21 January) over her suspected hand in the blacklisting of cultural figures. It is alleged that Cho Yoon-sun was responsible for drawing up a blacklist of artists, writers and entertainers, who were critical of impeached President Park Geun-hye.

Cho is the first sitting minister ever to be arrested amid the political scandal probe that has engulfed President Park.

The arrest came after the prosecutor's office asked the court to issue an arrest warrant for Cho and a former presidential chief of staff – Kim Ki-choon – on suspicion of abuse of power and perjury on Wednesday. Kim was also taken into custody.

Seoul Central District Court confirmed the news and told the media persons that the culture minister was arrested because her crime had been "verified and there were concerns over destruction of evidence".

According to a Yonhap report, nearly 10,000 people including 2016 Man Booker International Prize winner Han Kang and 2004 Cannes Film Festival grand prize winner Park Chan-wook, are on the list.

However, the Blue House has denied the allegations and said no such blacklist exists. Culture Minister Cho – who has offered to quit – also said in her defence that several times she has heard of the existence of such a list but she had nothing to do with it.

The special prosecutors' team that has arrested Cho and Kim is the same team who is also investigating the graft case involving the president.

Park was impeached on 9 December by parliament after 234 lawmakers voted against her. She is accused of allowing her friend, Choi Soon-sil, to access government documents without authorisation.

The 64-year-old scandal-hit president remains in office but has been stripped of her powers while the Constitutional Court decides whether to unseat or reinstate her.

Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun
Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun leaves after attending a court hearing to review a detention warrant request against her at the Seoul Central District court in Seoul, South Korea Lee Kwang-ho/News1 via REUTERS