South Korean court confirms impeachment of President Park

Violet Powell
March 10, 2017

A court upheld her impeachment on Thursday, effectively ending the power struggle by removing her from office.

Park has refused to undergo prosecutors' questioning, citing a law that provides a sitting leader with immunity from prosecution except for grave crimes like treason. For the immediate future, the primary focus will be on repairing the damage done by the Park scandal to the South Korean economy, which relies heavily on large conglomerates and was already struggling with diminishing growth potential, plummeting private consumption and a poor labor market. As an MP who had supported Roh's impeachment, she said then that she accepted the court's verdict and saw the decision as an opportunity to cultivate respect for the constitution. Several people were seen unconscious on the ground. Given the tight schedule, the only way to delay the schedule of the presidential election as long as possible and to avoid making it fall next to another holiday is to choose May 9 (Tuesday), rather than May 8 (Monday).

A change of power in South Korea this May may offer more "diplomatic transparency" for the next South Korean government, no matter who gets elected, another expert said.

Under normal circumstances, there would be around 70 days after an election before the President-elect starts their term, but because the next one is being held because of a vacancy, the next President-elect will start their term a day after an election, Choi said.

Park was impeached in December on charges of receiving millions of dollars in bribes from businesses and abusing her powers in a scheme with her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.

Ms Park has been accused of colluding with her.

The president has declined to speak with prosecutors, unlike others involved in the investigation.

Park has acknowledged that she got help from Choi to edit some of her speeches.

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"The case couldn't have been any clearer", said Chung Tae-ho of Kyung Hee University.

When the Constitutional Court considered whether to uphold or overturn her removal they were grouped into five points of contention. That motion followed weeks of huge but peaceful crowds gathering in downtown Seoul, the capital, to call for her resignation.

The outrage against her was triggered by revelations that the president, who seldom consulted with her ministers and official advisers, had been taking secret counsel on everything from North Korea policy to her wardrobe choices from a friend who held no official position. While she was in office, she was immune from prosecution. The firm has strongly denied allegations that it expected political favours from Park in return.

The scandal has also led to the heir-apparent of the technology giant Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, being formally indicted on multiple charges including bribery and embezzlement.

1 Jan, 2017: Ms Park denies wrongdoing, calling accusations "fabrication and falsehood". According to opinion surveys, Liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost to Park in the 2012 election, now enjoys a comfortable lead for the presidential position.

We are not a ruling party anymore.

She became South Korea's first woman leader after winning the 2012 election with 51.6% of the vote, defeating former human-rights lawyer Moon Jae-in.

The allegations stem from a political scandal that has rocked South Korea since the fall and touches almost every power center in the country.

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