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South Korean President Agrees to Withdraw Prime Minister Nominee

  • VOA News

South Korean President Park Geun-hye talks with parliament speaker Chung Sye-kyun during their meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 8, 2016.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye talks with parliament speaker Chung Sye-kyun during their meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 8, 2016.

South Korea's embattled president, Park Geun-hye, says she will allow the country's parliament to select a new prime minister, a major political concession as she seeks to survive a growing political scandal.

President Park announced her decision Tuesday after meeting with Chung Sye-kyun, the speaker of South Korea's opposition-controlled National Assembly. In addition to allowing parliament select a new prime minister, Park also agreed to allow that person control of the cabinet.

The president recently nominated Kim Byong-joon to the largely ceremonial position, but opposition lawmakers refused to even hold a hearing to approve his appointment.

President Park is under fire due to her close personal friendship with Choi Soon-sil, a mysterious figure who has been arrested on charges of abuse of power and fraud for raising millions of dollars from South Korea's large conglomerates for foundations she controlled.

In a related development, prosecutors raided the offices of Samsung Electronics in Seoul earlier Tuesday. Yonhap news agency says authorities are looking into reports that Samsung transferred over $3 million directly to a German sports company established by Choi and her daughter Chung Yoo-ra.

Choi has also been accused of using her friendship with Park to meddle in state affairs, although she holds no official position in the administration.

The scandal has shattered Park’s crafted political image as an incorruptible leader, forced top aides to resign to face possible criminal indictments, and has left her increasingly isolated and powerless. A new Gallup poll of voter opinion shows the president has plunged to an anemic five percent approval rating.

Tens of thousands of South Koreans protested in the streets of Seoul Saturday, demanding Park's resignation.

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