By Dongjin “Scott” Seo
“Order, President Park Geun-Hye is dismissed from office.” With the final verdict from the constitutional court, both cries of joy and anger filled the streets near the Constitutional Court as President Park Geun-Hye was officially impeached from her office by the constitutional law.
South Korean President, Park Geun-Hye, was impeached around 11 AM local time on 9 March 2017 with a unanimous 8-0 judgement vote from the Constitutional Court, the reason for her impeachment being “her past actions betrayed the people’s confidence”, as she “did not show signs of constitutional protection.”
Now as an ex-president, Park Geun-Hye lost the privilege of presidential immunity to prosecution, and is expected to be summoned by prosecutor for bribery and other criminal corruption charges. Park Geun-Hye was suspended from her office in December 2016, after her corrupt actions with her childhood best friend and leader of the Church of Eternal Life, Choi Sun Shil, were revealed to the public.
It is believed that Ms. Park abused her power to unlawfully secure lucre of millions of dollars with Ms. Choi. It is also revealed to the public that Ms. Choi, a civilian, had access to confidential items as well as presence to state affair, manipulating the law and companies such as Samsung to secure briberies.
Angered by Ms. Park’s irresponsible and illegal action, millions of South Korean civilians peacefully protested week after week on the street, demanding Park Geun-Hye to step down from her office and face prosecution and investigation. As a result, the public played a key role in passing the impeachment vote unanimously as 77% of the respondents of a survey conducted by Realmeter on 9 March were in favor of the impeachment.
Soon after the dismissal order given by the acting chief of justice, Lee Jung-Mi, violent pro-Park protesters filled the streets, marching to the constitutional court to “destroy” the order. Pro-Park protestors claimed that all the pieces of evidence were forged and faked, releasing fake news and statistics to create confusion in South Korea. During these violent protests, three pro-Park demonstrators aged 66, 74, and 72 died, and many were arrested for violence against the police. A man, aged 72, was killed by a falling speaker on top of a police bus used to create a barricade, which was stolen and drove by another pro-Park protester aged 65. Both other two men died of a heart disease during the protests.
On the other hand, ex-president Park Geun-Hye initially did not comment on the verdict as she fully believed that the vote will be rejected by the constitutional court. Reports say Ms. Park even prepared a 5-staged-cake to celebrate the imminent rejection of her impeachment vote.
Ex-president Park Geun-Hye finally commented on the verdict two days later, when Ms. Park arrived at her new house in Samseong-dong, Seoul. She said to her supporters, “Although it will take time, I believe the truth will be revealed”.
On a comical note, all of Ms. Park’s new home appliances were bought from LG, despite her being suspected of bribery from Samsung. Also, ironically, Ms. Park’s defending lawyer, Kim Pyeong-Woo was denied visit to Ms. Park’s new house as he played a role in passing the vote with his offensive, irresponsible, impulsive, and aggressive comments to the judges. When denied access, Mr Kim showed his irritation and aggressive nature saying, “You [reporters] do not have the right to ask questions, and I do not have to answer them”.
Now that the president is impeached by the constitutional court, by law, South Korea has to vote for their next president within the next 60 days. Political shifts seem inevitable in response to the nation’s first impeachment. Moon Jae-In is leading the presidential race with 40% of the public’s support as shown by a survey conducted by Realmeter.