Park became South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office a year ago when the Constitutional Court ordered her out over a scandal that landed the heads of two conglomerates in jail.
"Ms. Park's conviction on bribery, coercion, abuse of power and other charges was the first lower-court ruling on a criminal case to be broadcast live in South Korea".
"Park abused her power given by the people of the Republic of Korea, only to breach the freedom that corporates can enjoy in their management", said presiding Judge Kim Se-yoon at Seoul Central District Court.
Park, 66, was convicted of receiving or demanding more than $20 million from conglomerates, sharing secret state documents, "blacklisting" artists critical of her policies, and firing officials who resisted her abuses of power.
The judge added that tough sentence imposed on Park was necessary in order to send a note of warning to future leaders.
That vote came after millions of South Koreans took to the streets over a period of several months to demand Park's ouster, after revelations of the alleged massive influence wielded by her adviser and confidant, Choi Soon-sil.
In 2013 Park Geun-hye swept to power and took a hawkish position on relations with Pyongyang.
She was also accused of collecting bribe to the tune of £25 million and pressuring companies to fund nonprofits run by Choi's family.
Park acknowledges her ties with Choi in a nationally televised speech, but denies breaking the law. The sentence was more lenient than the 30 years sought by prosecutors.
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Along with the prison sentence, Park was also fined 18 billion won ($16.8 million), Kim said.
The scandal "exposed what has always been widely suspected in South Korea: the entangled web of government and sprawling business conglomerates that dominate the country's economy", say The Guardian. Park Geun-hye's first reaction to her father's death is reportedly to check on the security status at the border with North Korea, comments that inspire supporters to say she deserves a national leadership role.
Most of the money was meant to bankroll non-profit foundations run by Choi's family and confidants, and to fund the education of Choi's horse-riding daughter, the court said.
Older, conservative South Koreans, who remembered the dictatorship of Park's father fondly as a period of strength for the country, were her electoral base and a common sight throughout the impeachment process.
Park was the first female president of the country and is the first president to be impeached.
Her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, is also being investigated for corruption.
"There are so many people related to the corruption scandal".
Park once described Choi as someone who helped her when she had difficulties.