Korea pro­test­ers push for pres­i­dent’s ouster

‘Gifts to chil­dren and hand­cuffs to Park’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple, many in Santa Claus out­fits, marched through the streets of Seoul yes­ter­day call­ing for the im­me­di­ate ouster of im­peached Pres­i­dent Park Geun-Hye. Par­lia­ment voted to im­peach Park ear­lier this month over a cor­rup­tion scan­dal in which she al­legedly col­luded with her friend, Choi Soon-Sil, to strong-arm do­na­tions from large con­glom­er­ates to two du­bi­ous foun­da­tions.

Park is also ac­cused of or­der­ing aides to leak con­fi­den­tial state doc­u­ments to Choi, who has no of­fi­cial ti­tle or se­cu­rity clear­ance, and al­low­ing her to med­dle in state af­fairs, in­clud­ing the ap­point­ment of top of­fi­cials. Po­lice fig­ures were un­avail­able but or­ga­niz­ers es­ti­mated the crowd at more than 550,000. Pro­test­ers walked in three col­umns to­wards the pres­i­den­tial Blue House, the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice and the Con­sti­tu­tional Court.

“Ar­rest Park im­me­di­ately”, they chanted, while also urg­ing the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to ap­prove the im­peach­ment. De­spite sub-zero tem­per­a­tures, pro­test­ers waved ban­ners and bal­loons, and sang along to Christ­mas songs with new lyrics heap­ing ridicule on Park and call­ing for her im­me­di­ate re­moval. “This is a spe­cial Chris­mas eve as it gives me a chance to show my chil­dren what democ­racy is all about”, Yoon Ki-Se­ung told AFP as his son and daugh­ter held ban­ners.

Some 300 young peo­ple wear­ing Santa Claus out­fits were seen hand­ing out books and Christ­mas cards to chil­dren who ac­com­pa­nied their par­ents to the demon­stra­tion. “Gifts to chil­dren and hand­cuffs to Park”, they chanted. Artists drew a large baby Je­sus hold­ing a can­dle with the slo­gan “Oust Park in the name of the peo­ple” on the pave­ment.

Mas­sive demon­stra­tions have been tak­ing place in Seoul and other cities ev­ery Satur­day for the past two months, with pro­test­ers call­ing for Park’s im­me­di­ate de­par­ture from of­fice. But Park, who has been sus­pended from her du­ties since the im­peach­ment vote on De­cem­ber 9, has re­mained de­fi­ant, declar­ing she will “calmly” wait un­til the Con­sti­tu­tional Court, which is due to rule on the case within 180 days, ar­rives at a de­ci­sion.

Bribery al­le­ga­tions

The demon­stra­tion came as in­ves­ti­ga­tors were ex­pand­ing a probe into the scan­dal to de­ter­mine whether Park and Choi took bribes from con­glom­er­ates such as Sam­sung in ad­di­tion to so­lic­it­ing “do­na­tions” to the two foun­da­tions. Sam­sung has been a main tar­get of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It al­legedly bribed Choi to win state ap­proval for a con­tro­ver­sial merger of two of its units in order to bol­ster its found­ing fam­ily’s con­trol over the man­age­ment.

Pros­e­cu­tors are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing new al­le­ga­tions that Choi sent du­bi­ous as­sets worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars over­seas. Choi, who has been in cus­tody since Oc­to­ber, was brought to a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tors’ of­fice yes­ter­day in a prison bus. Television footage showed the 60-year-old hand­cuffed and wear­ing an ivory prison out­fit with a se­rial num­ber on the chest as she was taken off the bus and led into the court build­ing.

Choi, dubbed South Korea’s “fe­male Rasputin” for the in­flu­ence she wielded over Park, faces trial on charges of em­bez­zle­ment and abuse of power. “We will ques­tion her to con­firm her ear­lier state­ments and in­ves­ti­gate other al­le­ga­tions,” a spokesman for the spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor told re­porters. Choi’s ap­pear­ance came on the heels of the first hear­ing into Park’s im­peach­ment ear­lier this week. If the jus­tices con­firm im­peach­ment, Park will be per­ma­nently re­moved and elec­tions must be held within 60 days. — AFP

SEOUL: Pro­test­ers wear­ing Santa Claus cos­tumes at­tend a rally call­ing for the im­me­di­ate re­moval of South Korea’s im­peached Pres­i­dent Park Geun-Hye. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.