South Korea’s President Park impeached
In an ironic turn of events, the ongoing scandal surrounding South Korea’s President concluded in a dramatic finale: President Park Geun-hye was impeached on Friday – International Anti-Corruption Day. The lengthy, drawn out process that saw countless protests, culminated in a celebratory affair, with more than 800,000 taking to the streets in Seoul. The decision was delivered in a parliamentary vote of 234 to 56.
The nation’s Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will serve as interim leader. The Prime Minister’s role in South Korea is largely ceremonial, and as such, Hwang has yet to exert much political prowess, other than to come out in defence of Park (a move that has made him an already unpopular replacement).
Friend became foe in the relationship that led to Park’s demise – namely, her friendship with Choi Soon-sil (and the eventual dubbing of Choi-Soon-sil-gate), the daughter of cultist leader Choi Tae-min. Park stands accused of sharing privy and classified information with Choi, who has been indicted for graft and extortion of chaebol executives. Should Park’s impeachment stands, she will lose her presidential amnesty, and is likely be prosecuted, according to reports.
Many are left questioning: does Korea’s corruption problem end with Park and Choi? The chaebols have themselves been left standing on shaky ground, as the implications of Choi’s graft indictment are a double-edged sword. These accusations are hardly the first piece of negative Korea’s largest corporations face. From Samsung’s exploding phone batteries to Hanjin Shipping’s collapse to the Lotte Group corruption scandal, there appears to be an inherent issue in senior leadership.
While removing Choi and Park from political prominence may not fix the acute issues at hand, the widely publicised deliberations may spur systemic changes, as well as promote the independence and power of the country’s prosecution and judicial system.