The South Korea’s parliament has endorsed an impeachment motion against President Park Geun-hye on 9 December, with huge support from opposition lawmakers and also from opposing members of Park’s ruling Saenuri Party.
The endorsement was reached at 4.13 pm with 234 legislators approving, 56 opposing, 7 invalid and 2 declining to vote, in the unicameral National Assembly.
Park’s presidency was officially suspended at 7.03 pm when she received a formal letter of the result from the National Assembly. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn took the post as interim leader, following the Korean Constitution.
Park’s suspension will be held up to 180 days, during which the Constitutional Court will review the endorsed motion to decide whether her impeachment was justified.
If six members of the nine-judge court find the impeachment justifiable, Park will be removed from ruling permanently and South Korea will have 60 days to elect a successor through a nationwide election.
However, if less than six judges do so, Park will immediately return to power.
Below are some key excerpts, showing how the President fell from her incumbency, quoted from a report of the Korea Time.
On July 26, cable news channel TV Chosun reported that the presidential office had compelled conglomerates to donate almost 80 billion won (S$98 million) to Mir Foundation, a newly founded non-profit organization aimed at promoting Korean culture to the world.
On Sept 20, the newspaper Hankyoreh reported that Park’s longtime friend Choi-Soon-sil had established and ran Mir Foundation and another non-profit organization called K-Sports, also receiving donation from the businesses. The report raised suspicions about whether Choi had used her ties with Park to extort donations from the businesses to establish the two foundations she controlled.
On Oct. 25, Park, who had initially denied the allegations surrounding Choi, makes a public apology and admits her ties with Choi.
On Oct. 29, the first massive anti-president rally was held in central Seoul, calling for Park’s resignation.
On Nov. 4, Park makes a second public apology, but denied any wrongdoing in the scandal. She said she will accept prosecutors’ investigation into her action. Park’s support rate dropped to record-low 5 percent.
On Nov. 29, under increasing pressure to resign, Park made a third public apology, with a conditional offer to resign if the parliament arranges a stable power transfer.
Opposition lawmakers criticized the offer as a stalling tactic and to win back opposer from her ruling party who supported the impeachment.
On Dec. 3, more than 2 million people protested again across the nation for the sixth consecutive weekend of demonstrations. It was the biggest protest in the country’s history.
On that same day, opposition lawmakers vowed to vote for Park’s impeachment on 9 Dec.
On Dec. 7, the National Assembly hearing began questioning key witnesses and suspects related to the scandal, including Choi’s two aides, Cha Eun-taek, and Ko Young-tae, and Choi’s niece, Jang Si-ho. But Choi did not attend.
On Dec. 9, the impeachment bill is passed with more than 200 lawmakers voting on her impeachment, fulfilling the required two-thirds of the 300-member Assembly.
During this time of an absence of a President, the vacuum in Korea’s presidency seat and in the military commander in chief post is being filled by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.