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South Korea’s constitutional court removes President Park Geun-hye from power

March 10, 2017

An unanimous verdict from South Korea’s constitutional court has ruled to officially remove impeached President Park Geun-hye from power — a ruling that marked the first time in South Korea’s history that a democratically elected leader had been ousted early from office.

Park Geun-hye, the daughter of former South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee and the nation’s first woman president, had stood accused of a number of crimes — some more bizarre than others. In addition to allegedly using a soap opera character’s name at a beauty clinic, stockpiling Viagra, and fabricating medical prescriptions, Park had allegedly pressured businesses into donating millions to nonprofits controlled by her close friend, Choi Soon-sil, who is currently standing trial after allegedly embezzling as much as $70 million. Park also was accused of soliciting bribes from the head of the Samsung Group in return for backing the merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.

“Park concealed completely Choi’s meddling in state affairs and denied it whenever suspicions over the act emerged and even criticized those who raised the suspicions,” noted constitutional court chief justice Lee Jung-mi. “Judging from [Park’s] words and deeds, law-breaking activities have been repeated and her determination to abide by the Constitution has not been shown. In the end, the president’s unconstitutional and law-breaking activities have betrayed the people’s trust.”

Park became South Korea’s first female president in 2012 following an election in which she secured the highest vote share of any South Korean candidate since the country’s democracy began in the late 1980s.

According to recent opinion polls, around 77 percent of South Koreans supported Park’s removal from office. However, she did have a coalition of devoted supporters who protested the court’s ruling. According to The Associated Press, at least two protesters died after clashing with police when the demonstrations turned violent.

Read the full story at the South China Morning Post.


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