Constitutional Court Ousts Park

Violet Powell
March 11, 2017

Park becomes South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office, capping months of paralysis and turmoil over a corruption scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in jail.

With an earlier-than-planned presidential election due to take place within the next 60 days - May 9 is deemed a plausible date - support ratings for potential presidential candidates are now topped by Moon Jae-in, former chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea.

She also loses her presidential immunity and can be prosecuted.

Park was suspended from official duties in December after being accused of colluding with a friend who allegedly pressured companies to donate money in return for government favours.

Both women have denied wrongdoing.

Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi said Park's "acts of violating the constitution and law are a betrayal of the public trust". A spokesman said Park, who could now face criminal charges over a corruption scandal, will not be leaving the Blue House residence Friday. But the chaebols, which fuelled Korea's development under Ms Park's dictator father, have also amassed far too much power and are holding their country back.

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When the Constitutional Court considered whether to uphold or overturn her removal they were grouped into five points of contention.

It marks the first time a South Korean president has been driven from office before the end of their term since democracy replaced dictatorship in the late 1980s.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn was appointed acting president and will remain in that post until the election. The People's Party firmly believes the court will uphold the motion and will focus on preparing for the presidential election.

Park served as the nation's first lady for five years after her mother, a popular first lady, was shot to death by a North Korean agent. "Now with the impeachment of President Park, with the political process very much in an uncertain period of time, it is more likely that unexpected negative events may happen on the Korean peninsula bringing damage not only to North Korea and South Korea but neighboring countries like China", he said.

The prosecution's special investigation unit will look into whether Lee permitted the donations with the intent to induce Park's support - or pressure the government - for a controversial merger a year ago between two affiliates, Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries. Lee's trial for bribery and embezzlement began on Thursday, in a court case being billed as the trial of the century.

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