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South Korea PM to be Briefed on State Affairs After Park Impeachment

Acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn speaks during a press conference at the government complex in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 9, 2016.
Acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn speaks during a press conference at the government complex in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 9, 2016.

Having taken over the reins of state, South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will begin receiving official briefings from aides of disgraced President Park Geun-hye on Monday, following her impeachment by parliament at the end of last week.

Hwang has sought to calm anxiety over national security and to reassure financial markets, while Park's presidency is held in limbo pending the outcome of a Constitutional Court review of her impeachment, which may take up to 180 days.

Until then, Park will remain in the presidential Blue House a few blocks north of the main government complex where Hwang's office is located.

A Constitutional Court spokesman said the court's nine judges met Monday to discuss the case, but no date has been set for public hearings.

Park's term was set to end in February 2018. But, if the court upholds her impeachment, she will become the first elected South Korean leader to be ejected from office in disgrace.

Thereafter, a new election should be held within 60 days to pick a successor who will serve a full five-year term.

On Monday and Tuesday, Hwang will receive briefings from senior presidential secretaries on foreign policy, judicial, personnel and economic affairs, the Blue House said, giving no further details.

Hwang has chaired a National Security Council meeting, met with the cabinet twice and visited the military headquarters since assuming presidential powers late on Friday.

Two more officials charged

On Sunday, state prosecutors charged two more former senior officials as part of their probe of a corruption scandal that has led to Park's impeachment and the indictment of former aides and a friend, Choi Soon-sil.

Cho Won-dong, a former senior economic aide, was accused of colluding with the president in trying to pressure a South Korean conglomerate, CJ Group, to dismiss a

group vice chairman, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

Cho told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday he had found the arm-twisting wrong but he had to deliver the president's message to the conglomerate.

The chairman of food-to-entertainment conglomerate CJ Group, Sohn Kyung-shik, told a separate hearing that Cho had met him and asked the group to remove the vice chairman from her position.

The second newly charged person was a former vice culture minister, Kim Chong, indicted for suspected abuse of power and coercion for exerting influence over a state-run firm to make a contract with a sports management company controlled by the president's friend, Yonhap and other outlets reported.

The scandal erupted in October and has drawn large street protests in Seoul for the past seven Saturdays, with the crowds calling for Park to step down immediately.

On Monday, South Korean shares opened at their highest level since Oct. 25 as investors felt some uncertainty in the market was erased after the impeachment vote, but the modest gains were quickly erased due to prospects of a U.S. interest rate hike later this week.

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