The Strategist

South Korean President impeached

12/09/2016 - 13:47

South Korean parliament voted to impeach the country's president Park Geun-hye. 234 MPs (with 200 needed) voted in favor, and 54 were against. The impeachment resulted from a scandal with Park Geun-hye’s friend, who was closely involved in public decision-making process., Jeon Han, Jeon Han
Fate of Park Geun-hye is now handed over to the country's Constitutional Court, which must decide whether ouster is justified. Sacking the leader from direct management of the country will happen today, after the Korean Parliament will document its decision. Opinion polls show that 78% of South Koreans support impeachment of Park Geun-hye. During more than a month, the country was engulfed with multi-million protests demanding immediate resignation of the president.

Law on impeachment, submitted to vote late last week, put forward four reasons why Park Geun-hye was to leave. First, she "violated numerous constitutional premises by allowing her friend Choi Soon-sil and her accomplices to interfere in affairs of the state." Secondly, President "with her friend forced private owners to make contributions and to enter into contracts with certain companies." Third, she handed her friend "drafts of government documents containing confidential information." Fourth, she "neglected her duty to protect people when Sewol ferry sank in 2014, which resulted in deaths of 300 people." 

Local media report that Park Geun-hye "joined ranks of dishonest Korean presidents." It seems that the country has just been unlucky since transition to democracy in 1988. The first democratic president Roh Tae-woo (1988-1993) after resignation was sentenced to prison for 17 years. Charges against him included illicit enrichment. President of 2003-2007 Roh Moo-hyun has been accused of corruption and committed suicide without waiting for the court in two years after resignation. Next President Lee Myung-bak (2008-2013) has repeatedly been accused of corruption, but escaped imprisonment. 

The current political crisis erupted in the country after the South Korean society learned that President Park Geun-hye ran the state relying mainly on advice of her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.

Over many years, Choi Soon-sil, not holding any government posts, have had access to classified information and, in fact, participated in the country’s governance. Local media say she gave recommendations to President, and used close relationship with the state’s leader for illegal enrichment. 

Later, the prosecutor's office of South Korea unveiled first results of the corruption case’s investigation. According to published reports, the accused, including Choi Soon-sil, forced more than 50 South Korean companies to transfer tens of millions of dollars in funds that were controlled by Choi. For this, the country's largest corporations were promised preferential treatment from the authorities. The investigation believes that President knew about the criminal scheme, and, most likely, even participated in it.

Once this information has got to mass media, mass protests swept the country, and have not ceased for a few weeks. December 3, about 1.6 million people demanding resignation of Park Geun-hye took to streets of Seoul. This event has become the most large-scale in the past few weeks.