It has been a historical day in South Korean politics after the unanimous decision made in December by the Constitutional Court to impeach the country’s president, Park Geun-hye, over allegations of her abuse of power, coercion of donations and the sharing of state secrets was upheld. The move has resulted in protests which have so far claimed the lives of two demonstrators in Seoul.
Park was South Korea’s first ever female president, the first woman elected as a head of state in East Asia and has now gone down in the nation’s history again, this time for regrettable reasons, as the first president to be ousted due to impeachment. The decision was made during a live broadcast that both enthralled and divided the population earlier today, with demonstrations breaking out almost immediately — Some protesting the move and others celebrating Park’s removal.
Park, once ranked 11th on the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women and the most powerful woman in East Asia, was impeached on December 9, 2016 by the National Assembly. Since then her powers and duties have been suspended, taken over by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn who has assumed the role of Acting President.
Park had always maintained her stance on not succumbing to North Korea’s provocations and threats so there is now a fear her ousting could have drastic consequences, as South Korea’s political stability is key to the security of the region. The nation is also a major trading partner with the US as well as it’s Asian neighbors.
Announcing the decision to remove Park from power during the live broadcast, Justice Lee Jung-mi stated “We announce the decision as the unanimous opinion of all judges. We dismiss the defendant President Park.” During the announcement, anti-Park protestors were heard applauding in the streets, many crying tears of joy, while Park supporters attempted to reach the courthouse by rocking and climbing buses used as a barrier that blocked their path.
The ensuing protests have so far left two dead, one of whom was a man in his 70s who died of head wounds. Other details about the severity of the protests and the repercussions of the President’s impeachment are still emerging.