Park was taken into custody at her home and taken to a detention centre — a scene that was covered on live South Korean television.
Officials said the disgraced former leader accepted bribes and abused her power during her administration.
Park’s arrest followed a lengthy court hearing in Seoul, the country’s capital, at which the judge decided there was enough evidence to warrant the arrest.
“Major allegations were explained and proved and there were concerns over evidence destruction,” Seoul’s Central District Court said in a text message.
Amid the corruption investigation, Park was impeached and removed from office on March 10.
She will now remain in jail while prosecutors seek a formal indictment, which they said should come within the next three weeks.
“I feel apologetic toward the nation’s citizens,” Park said last week. “I’ll cooperate in the questioning sincerely.”
South Korea will elect a new president in May, and experts say it’s likely that Park’s conservative ruling party will be defeated in the vote after nearly a decade in power.