Sup­port­ers of im­peached leader clash with pro­test­ers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Seoul

Sup­port­ers of im­peached South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye clashed with pro­test­ers on Satur­day, as large crowds of demon­stra­tors again gath­ered in Seoul to de­mand the scandal-rid­den leader’s im­me­di­ate ouster.

The week­end protests over a cor­rup­tion scandal pushed South Korea’s op­po­si­tion-con­trolled par­lia­ment to vote this month to im­peach Park. The im­peach­ment sus­pended Park’s pow­ers un­til the Con­sti­tu­tional Court de­cides whether she should per­ma­nently step down or be re­in­stated.

While polls mea­sure Park’s pop­u­lar­ity in the low sin­gle dig­its, her im­peach­ment has be­come a ral­ly­ing point for her con­ser­va­tive sup­port­ers, who turned out in the tens of thou­sands on Satur­day.

They waved the coun­try’s na­tional flag and shouted for Park’s “il­le­gal” im­peach­ment to be “nul­li­fied” and the “rot­ten” par­lia­ment to be dis­solved.

The ten­sion was tan­gi­ble as anti-Park pro­test­ers, whose num­bers were much big­ger, gath­ered on a boule­vard across the street from where Park’s sup­port­ers were ral­ly­ing. Protest or­ga­niz­ers es­ti­mated that about 600,000 anti-Park pro­test­ers turned out.

De­spite thick lines of po­lice of­fi­cers sep­a­rat­ing them, there was some yelling and shov­ing be­tween the two groups, with one Park sup­porter hit­ting an anti-Park pro­tester with the pole of her flag. There were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of se­ri­ous vi­o­lence or in­juries.

Huge throngs of anti-Park pro­test­ers later walked to­ward the

I can’t stand Park for even an­other day. No­body wants her, but she’s stub­bornly stick­ing around, us­ing tax­payer money like it’s her money.” Kim Eun-young, pro­tester

pres­i­den­tial of­fices and res­i­dence, known as the Blue House, car­ry­ing can­dles and signs and de­mand­ing that Park im­me­di­ately quit.

“I can’t stand Park for even an­other day. No­body wants her, but she’s stub­bornly stick­ing around, us­ing tax­payer money like it’s her money,” said pro­tester Kim Eun-young.

Mean­while, the con­fi­dante of Park be­gins a trial on Monday that will ex­plore the scandal.

The trial of Choi Soon-sil, Park’s friend of 40 years, is the big­gest since the 2014 trial of the crew of a ferry that sank and killed more than 300, mostly teenagers. Ten oth­ers swept up in the scandal also face trial.

Choi last ap­peared in pub­lic on Oct 31 when, af­ter los­ing a Prada shoe in a crush of me­dia and pro­test­ers, she told re­porters at the Seoul prose­cu­tors’ of­fice that she had “com­mit­ted a sin that de­serves death”.

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