March 10, 2017 11:46
The Constitutional Court in a unanimous decision announced Friday morning upheld the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, who was immediately stripped of office.
Park, the country's first democratically elected leader to be forced out of office, must presently leave Cheong Wa Dae, where she has been holed up since the National Assembly voted to impeach her in December.
In a ruling read out live on TV as both supporters and opponents massed around the court, the court said the president "seriously impaired the spirit of... democracy and the rule of law."
Acting chief justice Lee Jung-mi said Park's actions "betrayed the public's trust in the president and constitute unforgivable violations of the Constitution."
The court accepted that Park conspired with her longtime crony Choi Soon-sil to extort vast sums of money from conglomerates and allowed Choi to meddle in government business.
Worse, she promised to cooperate sincerely in the investigation but not only failed to live up to her words but "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."
The court dismissed one ground in the National Assembly's impeachment bill, saying Park's unexplained seven-hour absence during the 2014 ferry tragedy that killed over 300 people, "cannot be seen as violating her duty to protect people's life" as the scope of a president's duties in the matter is "too abstract" to determine.
The ruling finally brings down the curtain on a standoff that has plunged the country into chaos since the scandal broke in October last year. Koreans must now go to the polls within 60 days to elect a new president while Park faces criminal prosecution like any ordinary citizen.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com