Published: Sun, March 12, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Court upholds impeachment of South Korea President over scandal

Court upholds impeachment of South Korea President over scandal

South Korea's Constitutional Court has voted unanimously to remove the country's president, Park Geun-hye, from office. Park supporters, gathered near Seoul's Constitutional Court and reportedly numbering in the thousands, were hemmed by a ring of police officers and vehicles.

Park is part of a powerful political family in South Korea; her father led the country for almost two decades in the 1960s and 1970s, ushering in an era of economic dynamism.

As Park Geun-hye steps out of Blue House ~ the presidential palace ~ she bequeaths a direly depleted legacy to the next occupant. Police say protesters also smashed the windows of several buses. A third man, aged 74, had a heart attack and died on Saturday, a hospital said. The Kospi index has gained 4.6% in dollar terms since Park's impeachment on 9 December, outpacing Japan's Nikkei 225, while the won has been among Asia's top performers in that time. Her political career has notched a pair of firsts: She was the country's first female leader, and is now also the first democratically-elected leader of South Korea to be removed from office.

Ahead in the polls in Moon Jae-in, a liberal candidate who favors a softer stance on the North.

Hwang has called for calm and promised that a snap presidential election, which has to be held within 60 days, would be smooth.

There are also fears Ms Park's sacking could spark violence between her supporters and opponents.

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Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, a Park loyalist, has instructed the people of South Korea to remain calm and accept the ruling.

Ms Park was accused of helping Ms Choi to put pressure on some of South Korea's biggest industrial conglomerates, known as "chaebol", to donate to two foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.

The Yonhap News Agency reports that the removal of Park will trigger an emergency presidential election.

Park's problems began in October, when revelations emerged about the influence Park's confidante and adviser Choi Soon-sil had over the President.

The Park scandal touched a nerve, galvanizing popular opinion against entrenched political and business elites in a political sea change in the country of which the fallout is still far from decided. The dominant campaign issues will probably be North Korea's nuclear weapons program and South Korea's relations with the United States and China.

South Korea's defence minister has ordered the military to be on alert for possible Pyongyang provocations aimed at exploiting the "unstable situation at home".

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