WHAT NEXT AFTER PARK’S REMOVAL?
Leader loses privileges, faces arrest if she refuses to cooperate with corruption probe
YESTERDAY’s final verdict by the constitutional court to sack impeached president Park Geun-hye has finally put an end to a months-long political crisis that rocked the nation.
Now that the public call had been fulfilled, here are some key developments that may await South Koreans — and Park — in the coming months.
The constitutional court’s verdict immediately strips her of all powers and privileges, including protection from criminal indictment. She is obliged to move out of the presidential palace, but an aide said she would not do so yesterday as her private residence needed to be prepared.
She has also been stripped of the privileges she can enjoy as a former head of state, including the right to be buried beside her father, former president Park Chung-hee — who was assassinated in 1979.
Park had been named a criminal suspect, accused of bribery for offering policy favours to the firms that benefited her aide Choi Son-sil. For months she had refused to make herself available for questioning by prosecutors.
But that may no longer be an option once she leaves the Blue House, when she could face arrest if she refused a summons.
A presidential election is to be held within 60 days, with local media reports suggesting May 9 as the most likely date.
Both the court and Acting President Hwang Kyo-Ahn appealed for the country to come together and move forward.
But the divisions fostered by the scandal will continue — while Park’s removal had overwhelming public support, she remained popular with an older, conservative constituency with fond memories of rapid growth under the 1961-79 rule of her father.
The current frontrunner — by a distance — is the liberal former Democratic Party leader Moon Jae-in, on 36 per cent.
But Hwang is in second place on 14 per cent and conservative parties had few standard-bearers to turn to after former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon ruled himself out.
Park Geun-hye shovelling earth into the grave of her father, president Park Chung-hee, who was assassinated in 1979.