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South Korean President Park's approval rating sinks to new low

South Korean President Park Geun-hye's approval rating has plunged to four percent amid a corruption scandal, according to a Gallup poll. Opposition lawmakers are to seek an impeachment vote against Park in December.

As the political crisis deepens in South Korea, President Park Geun-hye's disapproval rating rose three points to 93 percent, a Gallup Korea poll showed on Friday.

Her approval ratings mark an all-time low for any democratically-elected leader in the east Asian country.

The scandal centers on Park's shadowy confidant Choi Soon-sil, who is accused of using her ties with the president to coerce local firms to donate millions of dollars to non-profit foundations that Choi then used for personal gain.

Choi is also accused of interfering in state affairs to the extent of nominating officials and editing Park's speeches even though she has no official title or security clearance.

Prosecutors allege the president colluded with Choi to extract money from companies and will question Park as part of a criminal investigation.

After the scandal broke out, Park publicly apologized twice, tried to transform her cabinet and announced her intention to work with the prosecutor.

On Thursday, South Korean prosecutors raided the Finance Ministry and the headquarters of two of the country's biggest companies. SK - the country's third-largest company and largest wireless operator - reportedly donated 11.1 billion won (8.9 million euros, $9.4 million) and Lotte - a retail and food giant and the country's fifth largest firm - reportedly gave 4.9 billion won.

Thursday's raid came a day after prosecutors searched the headquarters of Samsung Group over allegations it bribed Choi to win state approval for a controversial merger in 2015.

Südkoreanischer Protest gegen Präsidentenpark Geun-Hye in Seoul (Picture-Alliance/dpa/J. Heon-Kyun)

Prosecutors allege the president colluded with Choi to extract money from companies

Political fallout

Meanwhile, opposition parties are working towards impeachment proceedings against Park and are aiming to put a motion to a vote early in December.

"We will seek to vote on the impeachment motion as early as December 2, and no later than December 9," Woo Sang-Ho, parliamentary leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), was quoted as saying by the local media.

The DP has 121 seats in the 300-member parliament, but an impeachment motion requires support from at least half of the parliament to start and a two-thirds majority to pass. A growing number of ruling party politicians have now endorsed the campaign to oust the beleaguered president.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to Seoul's streets last week demanding Park's resignation.

shs/jm (AFP, Reuters)