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Hundreds of Thousands Rally in South Korea, Calling for Park's Ouster

  • VOA News

South Koreans shout slogans and carry placards reading "Park Geun-hye Out" during a protest against South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 12, 2016.

South Koreans shout slogans and carry placards reading "Park Geun-hye Out" during a protest against South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 12, 2016.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered at a rally in South Korea on Saturday to demand the ouster of President Park Geun-hye.

Police in Seoul said about 260,000 people demonstrated, which would be the country's largest protest in three decades, but organizers claimed they had a million people turn out.

High school students, Catholic nuns, farmers, retirees and young couples with babies marched on a road in front of the presidential palace gate blowing horns, banging drums and chanting "Park Geun-hye, resign!"

As the sun set, demonstrators waved candles and banners, continuing to chant slogans calling on Park to quit.

Koreans from around the country traveled to the capital to join demonstrations.

"It was our wedding anniversary yesterday but we canceled our anniversary trip and came to Seoul because we thought it was more important for our daughter," Cho Joo-pyo told France's AFP, alongside his wife and 2-year-old daughter, having traveled from their hometown nearly 200 kilometers away.

People chant slogans at a rally calling for President Park Geun-hye to step down in central Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 12, 2016. The placards read, "Step down Park Geun-hye."

People chant slogans at a rally calling for President Park Geun-hye to step down in central Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 12, 2016. The placards read, "Step down Park Geun-hye."

Over 20,000 police officers, many in riot gear, were deployed amid calls for calm.

The protest was the latest in a series demanding Park's resignation over a corruption scandal that has crippled her administration. Her approval rating has fallen to just 5 percent.

The investigation into a multimillion-dollar influence-peddling scheme, allegedly organized by the president's longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, has shattered Park's carefully crafted political image as an incorruptible leader and left her increasingly isolated and powerless. They are accused of pressuring South Korean businesses into giving $70 million to foundations that Choi controlled.

Choi is alleged to have exercised a "cultlike" influence over Park and control over her staff, even though she has no official government role.

Choi is also being investigated for exploiting her personal relationship with the president to coerce large corporations to donate more than $68 million to two sports foundations, and funneling much of that money to her private businesses.

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