The Constitutional Court of South Korea removed President Park Geun-hye from power today after months of deliberation, citing “acts that violated the Constitution and laws.”
In a unanimous vote by the court’s eight judges to uphold, the Parliament’s impeachment of her over a corruption scandal that involved her close friend Choi Soon-sil, Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female president and first democratically elected leader, was removed. South Korea must hold an election to replace her within the next 60 days.
According to BBC News, Soon-sil is accused of abusing her ties with Geun-hye to bully companies into donating millions of dollars to non-profit foundations she controlled.
Geun-hye is alleged to have allowed Soon-sil access to a plethora of official government documents and files, and directly aided Soon-sil.
Parliament voted to impeach Soon-sil in December, but she has continued to reside in the country’s presidential Blue House. The prime minister has since been acting in her role.
The court noted that Geun-hye “concealed completely Choi’s meddling in state affairs and denied it whenever suspicions over the act emerged and even criticized those who raised the suspicions” and that her actions “seriously impaired the spirit of […] democracy and the rule of law.”
As a result of this removal from office Geun-hye has also lost her presidential immunity, opening up the possibility of her facing criminal charges for her actions.
This is a victory for ousting politically corrupt regimes. After months of hundreds of thousands of South Koreans protesting Geun-hye’s continued presidency, the court responded and has allowed the country to replace her via the democratic process. The moment the ruling was publicly announced, there were cheers in the streets from anti-Geun-hye protesters, and pro-Geun-hye protesters fell silent.
According to the New York Times, Geun-hye supporters then attempted to storm the court and called for its destruction. The police thwarted this violent attempt at upheaval by mostly elderly citizens, two of which died.
Photo Credit: Korean Culture and Information Service/Cheong Wa Dae
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