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Asia

South Korea president's approval rating sinks to new record low

Rocked by a deepening political scandal, the president's approval rating has dropped to a single digit. A mass rally against Park Geun-hye is expected to be one of the largest since pro-democracy protests in the 1980s.

South Koreans sit in front of the police with a banner reading Park Geun-hye Out during a protests against the president in the capital Seoul

South Koreans sit in front of the police with a banner reading "Park Geun-hye Out" during a protests against the president in the capital Seoul

South Korean President Park Geun-hye's approval rating dipped to a new all-time low for the second consecutive week amid one of the country's largest political scandals in years, according to a Gallup Korea poll published on Friday.

Gallup said their survey showed her approval rating fell 1 percentage point compared to last week, reaching 9 percent, the Yonhap news agency.

The poll also showed that 0 percent of South Koreans under the age of 30 approved of their president.

Park's presidency has been rocked by a political scandal concerning her longtime confidant Choi Soon-sil. Police arrested her earlier this month on charges of fraud and abuse of power.

Local media reported that Choi unduly used her close relationship to the president to influence state affairs and direct private donations to non-profit foundations under her control, which she used for personal gain.

Since the scandal erupted, Park has apologized to the nation several times for lowering the "wall of caution" when it came to Choi.

More demonstrations

Mass protests are scheduled to take place on Saturday, with authorities calling for calm. Organizers expect the demonstration in Seoul to be one of the largest since pro-democracy protests in the 1980s.

Authorities announced that 25,000 police will be deployed at the rally to prevent illegal action or violence.

"The government is concerned that the protest could lead to illegal collective action or violence," said Deputy Prime Minister Lee Joon-sik.

"Until now, the government has guaranteed the freedom to legally protest. We hope the public will cooperate so that (Saturday's) demonstration will be legal and peaceful," he added.

Opposition parties have stopped short of calling Park to resign in the last year of her first five-year presidential term. Instead, they have pushed for her to relinquish control of certain state affairs, including diplomacy and defense policy.

ls/kms (Reuters, AFP)