POLITICS AND PROTESTS IN SOUTH KOREA

by Jeffery Kyle

Peaceful protests exploded over the weekend hoping to put an end to South Korea President, Park Geun-hye. Protesters marched along the street of Seoul upset about a scandal involving their President and her friend, Choi Soon-sil.

Park and Choi have been known to have a 40-year long friendship. The scandal is centred on the president allowing her friend access to sensitive documents and speeches to the public.

The secret counselling given to president Park from Choi has resulted in investigators seeking charge choi with abuse of power and fraud. These accusations follow a trail toward the extortion of massive sums of money from South Korean corporations aimed to benefit Choi and her family.

south-korea2

Park admits that she had given too much trust to her friend and harbours the blame for the scandal on herself. However this has not calmed the people as they remained outraged at their leader’s inexcusable actions.

“Choi Soon-sil helped me out when I have having a hard time in the past,” said Park.

The response from the South Korean people reveal their anger at someone who has no governmental authority or security clearance access to sensitive state information.

Throughout the protests, people chanted:

 “Who’s the real President?”

Investigators assist to resolve the scandal and have arrested two of Park’s former aides. Former presidential secretary, An Chong-bum, was arrested on suspicion of abuse of authority and attempted coercion. As well, a warrant for arrest has been issued for Jeong Ho-seong, the former secretary for private presidential affairs, for allegedly handing over state documents to Choi.

south-korea3

At this time, there is no movement to impeach Park from her presidency, even though she has 15 months remaining in her term. Park has been making various attempts to salvage her position by appointing a prime minister full control of domestic affairs. If Park steps down before the end of her term, an election must be held within 60 days.

Protesters are seeking to restore justice in their democracy and over half a million protesters came out over the weekend to make their voice heard.

south-korea4

Democracy has been a heated subject in South Korea since the June Struggle of 1987. During this uprising, mass protests were generated to enforce a democratic style of election for the president. The people won the right to have direct presidential elections and restoration of civil liberties.

South Korea successfully achieved the democratic right to put their leaders in power. Now it seems that they are exercising those same hard fought rights to remove the leaders who abuse the powers they were given.

Top Image By Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters