The harshness of the sentence is likely to deepen divisions in a country still wrestling with the aftermath of the most serious political turmoil in years.
The most deeply involved was Samsung, South Korea's largest conglomerate. The court which upheld her impeachment agreed with accusations that Park had abused her authority in helping Choi raise donations from companies for foundations she had set up. She has refused to attend sessions since October and maintains her innocence.
Handing down the sentence at Seoul Central District Court, the judge said that Park had "abused the power which was given to her by the citizens".
Both Park and prosecutors - who had demanded a 30-year sentence - have one week to appeal. Similar charges were laid against Choi, while Samsung Samsung Group chief Lee Jae Yong and Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong Bin were charged with bribing Choi.
"Despite all these crimes the accused denied all the charges against her, displayed no remorse and showed an incomprehensible attitude by blaming Choi and other. officials", he said, referring to Park's secret confidante and long-time friend Choi Soon-sil.
The scandal has already led to the arrests, indictments and convictions of dozens of high-profile government officials and business leaders.
Park still has supporters, though, and they turned up Friday before the court proceedings began.
Some of their placards read: "Reinstate President Park immediately" and "Release the most innocent President Park Geun-hye immediately".
"The rule of law in this country is dead today", said Han Geun-hyung, a 27-year-old Park supporter. There were no immediate reports of major clashes or injuries.
Park became South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office past year when the Constitutional Court ordered her out over a scandal that landed the heads of two conglomerates in jail.
Seattle Joins Lawsuit to Preserve Fair and Accurate Census
Schneiderman said he is ready to take the case to the Supreme Court but doubts it will need to go that far. It asked for a ruling that the citizenship demand is unauthorised and unconstitutional.
Park is daughter of assassinated dictator Park Chung-hee and took office in 2013 as a conservative icon. But he's also remembered for imprisoning and torturing dissidents. She was convicted of bribery and extortion, among other criminal charges, in February, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
"Given her attitude and public anger over her scandal that remains raw, it will be hard to create a political environment in favour of her release any time soon", Jeong told AFP. But her relations with the Choi family have long haunted her political career.
Park has previously insisted that she only got help from Choi on public relations and to edit some presidential speeches.
Park apologized while in office for seeking help from Choi, who had no policy or political experience, but that was as close as she came to admitting any guilt.
May 2017: Park's rival, Moon, wins a presidential by-election.
Her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, who held the presidential office from 2008 to 2013, is also now in detention as he is suspected of multiple corruption charges.
In 2009, former president Roh Moo-hyun killed himself while he was under investigation for corruption.
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