Judgment Day Arrives for Korea's Scandal-Plagued President Park

Judgment Day Arrives for Korea's Scandal-Plagued President Park

Judgment Day Arrives for Korea's Scandal-Plagued President Park

Supporters of South Korean President Park Geun-hye watch a live broadcast of a Constitutional Court decision on a smart phone during a rally opposing her impeachment near the Constitutional Court in Seoul, South Korea, on March 10, 2017.

Ms Park's dismissal from office means South Korea must now elect a new president by early May.

In its ruling, the eight-judge panel unanimously voted to impeach the president.

If her removal is approved, she would be forced out of the palace and deprived of her executive immunity, exposing her to potential criminal charges. If the motion is rejected, Park would resume her duties and complete her term in February next year.

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An independent investigator claims the former president was an accomplice to Choi in attempting to extract 43bn won (£30.9m) from the technology giant, saying the two friends "shared economic interests", the Korea Herald reports.

She took office as the 18th president four years ago, after winning over a majority of vote in the December 2012 presidential election.

The current front-runner, by a distance, is Moon Jae-In, former leader of the opposition Democratic Party, who had the support of 36.1 percent in a Realmeter poll released on Thursday.

"As much as our position pertaining to national security should remain unwavering regardless of the domestic political situation, we will continue to maintain steady preparedness in close cooperation with our diplomatic and security agencies with regards to North Korea", government officials in Seoul said.

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The court's decision, which was unanimous, makes Park the first ever South Korean leader to be removed from office by impeachment.

Shortly after Friday's decision was announced, South Korea's defense minister Han Min Koo warned the country's military to be on alert for the possibility of North Korean "strategic or operational" provocations attempting to exploit "unstable situations at home and overseas", according to AP.

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 stunning and sudden collapse of Park's presidency was caused by allegations that a multi-million dollar influence-peddling scandal was being run out of the Blue House.

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20 Nov, 2016: Prosecutors indict Ms Choi on charges of abuse of power and attempted fraud. Lee, who is facing trial, is another potent sign that the old order is not holding.

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