Thou­sands in South Korea call for Pres­i­dent to quit

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Tens of thou­sands of South Kore­ans poured into the streets of down­town Seoul on Satur­day, us­ing words in­clud­ing ‘trea­son’ and ‘crim­i­nal’ to de­mand that Pres­i­dent Park Ge­un­hye step down amid an ex­plo­sive po­lit­i­cal scan­dal.

The protest, the largest antigov­ern­ment demon­stra­tion in the cap­i­tal in nearly a year, came a day af­ter Park apol­o­gised on live tele­vi­sion amid ris­ing sus­pi­cion that she al­lowed a mys­te­ri­ous con­fi­dante to ma­nip­u­late power from the shad­ows.

Protest

Hold­ing ban­ners, can­dles and col­or­ful signs that read ‘Park Geun-hye out’’ and ‘Trea­son by a se­cret govern­ment’, the demon­stra­tors, in­clud­ing many stu­dents, packed a large square in front of an old palace gate and the nearby streets, singing and thun­der­ously ap­plaud­ing speeches call­ing for the ouster of the in­creas­ingly un­pop­u­lar pres­i­dent. They then shifted into a slow march to­ward the streets around City Hall, shout­ing ‘Ar­rest Park Geun-hye’, ‘Step down, crim­i­nal’ and ‘We can’t take this any longer’. “Park should squarely face the pros­e­cu­tion’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion and step down her­self.

“If she doesn’t, politi­cians should move to im­peach her,’’ said Kim Seo-yeon, a col­lege stu­dent who par­tic­i­pated in the march.

“She ab­so­lutely lost all au­thor­ity as pres­i­dent over the past few weeks,’’ he said.

Ear­lier in the week, pros­e­cu­tors ar­rested Choi Soon-sil, the daugh­ter of a late cult leader and a long­time friend of Park, and de­tained two former pres­i­den­tial aides over al­le­ga­tions that they pres­sured busi­nesses into giv­ing US$70 mil­lion (F$143.25m) to two foun­da­tions Choi con­trolled.

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