South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye has been removed from office in the political scandal that has consumed the country.
The country’s constitutional court voted yesterday to uphold the parliamentary vote that impeached Park over a corruption scandal that has also involved Samsung’s group leader Lee Jae-yong. Park has become the first democratically elected leader to be forced from office in South Korea.
The ruling led to protests across Seoul as Park’s supporters reacted to the decision. Two people were killed in clashes with police outside the courtroom.
The court’s judge, Lee Jung-mi, said Park had violated the constitution and the law throughout her term in office as she concealed the truth and cracked down on critics. She has denied any wrongdoing and refuses to leave the presidential Blue House residence.
The ruling means that Park has been stripped of her immunity as president. She could now face criminal charges of bribery, extortion and abuse of power in connection with her friend and advisor, Choi Soon-sil.
Choi has allegedly interfered in state affairs, something Park hid from parliament, as well as colluding to pressure businesses to donate to two foundations set up to support her policy initiatives.
Park has also been charged with soliciting bribes from Samsung’s group leader Lee in exchange for backing Lee’s attempts to take full control of the tech conglomerate. Lee’s trial, which has been dubbed ‘the trial of the century’ began yesterday in Seoul and is expected to continue for months.
It’s not just Samsung that has allegedly benefitted from Park and Choi. There are calls for legal action to be taken against the heads of other companies, including Hyundai.
There will be an election within 60 days to elect the new head of the country, however, for now, South Korea’s prime minister Hwang Kyo-ahn is acting president and will remain in this post until the election.