By Madeleine Hillyer, International News Editor
On Friday, December 10, in an unprecedented move in the country, South Korean parliament members voted to impeach their president. With this vote, Park Geun-hye became the first president to be impeached in the country’s history. Parliament members voted 234-56 to impeach the nation’s president. According to the South Korean constitution, only 200 votes, out of the 300 member parliament, were needed for the impeachment process to continue.
With these results, at least 60 members of Park’s own party had to vote for her impeachment, if not more. The vote was done by secret ballot so exact numbers of support for her impeachment from all parties is unknown.
President Park has been accused of extorting money from companies within the country with the aid of one of her friends, Choi Soon-sil.
Investigations also showed that this same friend was given high levels of influence and control in Park’s government. Prosecutors have brought cases against both Park and Choi for these actions.
Now, a court will look at Park Geun-hye’s case to decide if her impeachment will stand or if she can return to her position.
Until then, South Korea’s Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will take over presidential duties until Park either returns to her position or a replacement is selected.
Though Park admits to no wrong doing, she has shown some remorse for her close ties to her friend also implicated in the case.
In closed chambers remarks after the impeachment vote the president is quoted by BBC as saying, “I’d like to say that I’m deeply sorry to the people because the nation has to experience this turmoil because of my negligence and lack of virtue at a time when our security and economy both face difficulties.” The president does not plan to officially step down until after a court ruling demanding her to do so.
Her impeachment was highly popular among South Koreans, with an estimated 10,000 people protesting for her removal before the parliamentary vote.
The president’s approval rate now stands at only 5 percent, one of the lowest approval ratings ever for any sitting president. Many of South Koreans rejoiced in the streets after the vote, shouting “Victory for the People” after results were announced, as reported by Reuters.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 10th print edition.
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