South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye Impeached

In a historic move by South Korea’s parliament, embattled President Park Geun-hye is impeached by an overwhelming margin

South Korea’s president impeached: What’s the fallout? from Al Jazeera English

The South Korean National Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of an impeachment motion for current President Park Geun-hye, daughter of ruthless yet admired South Korean President Park Chung-hee. Park Geun-hye became embroiled in a pay-for-access scandal involving a close associate who allegedly used her connections to the President of South Korea to further her financial and business interests. The National Assembly vote was 234-56, with six abstentions. It is now up to the country’s Constitutional Court to debate President Park’s fate, a process that could take 180-days and, many fear, could potentially paralyze South Korea’s government amidst an economic downturn and civil unrest. President Park has expressed her regrets and apologized to the nation but many question her motives in extending the struggle for her presidency with less than one year remaining in her term. President Park is a historic figure for being South Korea’s first female President but she is also famous/infamous for her association with her father, the equally praised and maligned former President of South Korea, Park Chung-hee, whose tactics are credited with helping build South Korea’s industrial might.

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“I solemnly accept the voices of the National Assembly and the people and sincerely hope that the current confusion will come to an end in an orderly manner,” – Park Geun-hye

Park’s ruling Saenuri Party holds a slim lead in the National Assembly and Park’s weakened administration and the disastrous scandal could spell an absolute electoral defeat for the Saenuri Party:

Saenuri Party: 128
Minjoo Party of Korea: 121
People’s Party: 38
Independent: 7
Justice Party: 6

During the impeachment process, South Korea’s Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will administer the affairs of the executive office in what he promised would be a transparent and corrupt-free manner. National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun announced the success of the impeachment motion in the National Assembly stating that the officials had a duty to stabilize the nation. Park’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, is accused of using her close relationship with the President to influence donations to various non-profit organizations that she administers. President Park and Choi Soon-sil’s friendship began with the death of Park’s mother at the hand of an assassin.

Choi Soon-sil’s family is not without controversy – her father was the leader of what many call a “cult” in South Korea and this is not the first time the family’s influence in political affairs has led to political upheaval, with many believing Choi Soon-sil’s father’s influence on Park’s father Chung-hee led to the senior Park’s downfall. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun was impeached by the National Assembly in 2004 but the charges brought against him were rejected by the Constitutional Court and he was restored to power two months later. If the Constitutional Court returns a 2/3’s majority against Park, a new presidential election must be held within 60 days. Analysts fear the electoral unrest could lead to a liberal government, one that is more aligned with policies of engagement with North Korea rather than sharing Saenuri’s stance that sanctions and punitive measures against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea work to maintain the status quo. Current polls of South Koreans show the President’s approval rating slightly below 5%. The President of South Korea is immune from prosecution, and prosecutors in Choi Soon-sil investigation want to talk to the President but she has avoided doing so.

[CNN – South Korea’s parliament votes to impeach President Park Geun-hye]
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