SEOUL (AP) — South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that she will resign — if parliament arranges the technical details — in her latest attempt to fend off impeachment efforts and massive street protests amid prosecution claims that a corrupt confidante wielded government power from the shadows.
“If the ruling and opposition parties discuss and come up with a plan to reduce the confusion in state affairs and ensure a safe transfer of governments, I will step down from the presidential position under that schedule and by processes stated in law.”
— South Korean President Park Geun-hye
Opponents immediately called Park’s conditional resignation offer a stalling tactic, and analysts said her steadfast denial that she has done anything wrong could embolden her enemies. The country’s largest opposition party, the Minjoo Party, said it would not let Park’s “ploy to avoid impeachment” interfere with a planned vote on impeachment on Friday.
“There is no possibility that the opposition parties will accept her offer; not when the public is this angry. She apparently wanted to buy more time, but in the end she might have hastened the end of her presidency.”
— Yul Shin, a politics professor at Seoul’s Myongji University
Park, who did not take questions from reporters after her live address to the nation, said she will “leave the matters about my fate, including the shortening of my presidential term, to be decided by the National Assembly,” referring to parliament.
“If the ruling and opposition parties discuss and come up with a plan to reduce the confusion in state affairs and ensure a safe transfer of governments, I will step down from the presidential position under that schedule and by processes stated in law,” she said.
How exactly this might play out is still unclear. But some saw Park’s speech as a clear effort to avoid leaving office, despite the resignation language. Read the rest of this entry »
Hundreds of thousands of people flooded Seoul’s streets on Saturday demanding the resignation of Park amid an explosive political scandal, in what may be South Korea’s largest protest in three decades.
SEOUL (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people flooded Seoul’s streets on Saturday demanding the resignation of President Park Geun-hye amid an explosive political scandal, in what may be South Korea’s largest protest since it shook off dictatorship three decades ago.
“Park’s presidency has been shaken by suspicion that she let a shadowy longtime confidante manipulate power from behind the scenes. Protest organizers estimated the crowd at 1 million.”
Police said about 260,000 people turned out for the latest mass rally against Park, whose presidency has been shaken by suspicion that she let a shadowy longtime confidante manipulate power from behind the scenes. Protest organizers estimated the crowd at 1 million.
“People said it was a bad idea to bring my kids here, but I want them to remember today…and learn that democracies are built on participation.”
Waving banners and signs, a sea of demonstrators jammed streets stretching about a kilometer from City Hall to a large square in front of an old palace gate for several hours, roaring and applauding to speeches calling for Park’s ouster.
“In addition to allegedly manipulating power, the president’s confidante, Choi Soon Sil, is also suspected of exploiting her presidential ties to bully companies into donating tens of millions of dollars to foundations she controlled.”
Protesters also marched on a road in front of the palace gate and near the Blue House, the mountainside presidential office and residence, carrying candles, blowing horns and banging drums, while shouting “Park Geun-hye, resign!”
Bae Dong San, a 45-year-old man, said Park’s government has “worsened the living conditions of workers, completely messed up state governance and monopolized state affairs with her secret inner circle.”
“It feels much better to shout together with many other people.”
— Bae Dong San, a 45-year-old protester
“It feels much better to shout together with many other people,” he said.
Despite rising public anger, opposition parties have yet to seriously push for Park’s resignation or impeachment over fears of triggering a backlash from conservative voters and negatively impacting next year’s presidential election. However, they have threatened to campaign for Park’s resignation if she doesn’t distance herself from state affairs.
“I have never been interested in politics and I don’t even have a TV at home…but unbelievable things have been happening and I came out today because I didn’t want to feel defeated as a South Korean citizen.”
— Cho Jong-gyu, who took a five-hour bus ride to participate in the rally
The protest on Saturday was the largest in the capital since June 10, 2008, when police said 80,000 people took part in a candlelight vigil denouncing the government’s decision to resume U.S. beef imports amid mad cow fears. Organizers estimated that crowd at 700,000. In the summer of 1987, millions rallied in Seoul and other cities for weeks before the then-military government caved in to demands for free presidential elections.
Train and express bus tickets to Seoul were difficult to get from some areas Friday evening and Saturday morning, with the protest reportedly drawing tens of thousands of people from other cities.
“I have never been interested in politics and I don’t even have a TV at home … but unbelievable things have been happening and I came out today because I didn’t want to feel defeated as a South Korean citizen,” said Cho Jong-gyu, who took a five-hour bus ride from the small southern island of Geoje to participate in the rally, where he quietly held a cardboard sign calling for Park to resign. Read the rest of this entry »