South Korean Turmoil

While America has been focused on the controversy surrounding its President-elect, Trump, South Korea has been facing it’s own presidential problems. In October, news leaked of Park Geun-hye’s close relationship with Choi Soon-sil, a famed cult leader.  Citizens across South Korea were in an uproar upon hearing the news and many went to the streets to protest Geun-hye’s continued presidency.

She was eventually accused by the South Korean government of more than a dozen constitutional and legal offenses, including helping Choi Soon-sil extort money from corporations, influence peddling and meddle in state affairs. The National Assembly voted to impeach President Park by a vote of 234 to 56, relieving her of all executive powers and bringing her case to trial.

President Park’s approval rating plunged to an astonishing four percent; the lowest ever among South Korean leaders since democracy was established in the 1980’s.  Even elderly conservatives, who once made up her political base, distanced themselves from her.   An opinion survey released Thursday showed that about seventy-eight percent of respondents supported Park’s impeachment.

The last time South Korean lawmakers voted to impeach a president was in 2004, when they accused late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun of minor election law violations and incompetence. The court restored Roh’s powers two months later, ruling that his wrongdoings weren’t serious enough to justify his unseating. The chances of the court reinstating Park are considered low because her charges are much graver.  

However, some legal experts say the court might need more than a couple of months to decide. This is because Park’s case is much more complicated than Roh’s and because her lawyers will likely press the court not to uphold the impeachment unless the suspicions against her are proven by the court case. Until then we have to wait to here if Park Geun-hye is proven guilty.

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