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South Koreans Celebrate President's Impeachment

  • VOA News

Protesters holding signs reading "Arrest Park Geun-hye" shout slogans as they march toward the presidential house during a rally in Seoul Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016.

Throngs of South Koreans took to the streets of the capital Saturday to celebrate the impeachment of disgraced President Park Geun-hye.

The National Assembly voted to impeach Park Friday.

Saturday marks the seventh consecutive Saturday South Koreans have gathered on the streets of Seoul because of the disgraced president. The protest mood of the crowd from the first six weeks shifted to a celebratory mood Saturday.

Some in the crowd, however, want Park's immediate dismissal. That is unlikely to happen.

The Constitutional Court will now have six months to review the legitimacy of the impeachment motion. If the court affirms, a new presidential election will be scheduled within two months of the ruling.

President Park met with her Cabinet in the Blue House following the impeachment vote and afterwards read a statement to the press.

"I gravely accept voice of the National Assembly and our people, and I am sincerely wishing this crisis to be finished well,” Park said.

Park had refused to resign, but said she would abide by the outcome of the impeachment vote and plead her case before the Constitutional Court.

The president’s image as a strong and incorruptible leader crumbled under allegations her longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, secretly exploited her close relationship with Park to force Korean conglomerates to donate nearly $65 million to two dubious foundations, while at the same time funneling some of the funds and lucrative side contracts to companies owned by herself and her friends.

With the passage of the impeachment vote, Park has been immediately suspended from office. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn has become acting head of state.

Park has maintained the actions she took were in the national interest and insists she never personally benefited during her 18 years of public service. She also offered three public apologies for not being aware that some of her close associates may have been involved in some wrongdoings.

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