South Koreans continue protests amid calls for President Park to step down | News | DW | 17.12.2016
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South Korea

South Koreans continue protests amid calls for President Park to step down

Tens of thousands of people have filled the streets of Seoul to both protest and show support for President Park Geun-Hye. The South Korean leader is challenging her impeachment.

Demonstrations continued in the South Korean capital for the eighth straight week as opponents of Park called for the leader to step down following an impeachment decision in December.

Tens of thousands of protesters reportedly turned out on the streets of Seoul, marching in separate lines toward the presidential Blue House, the office of the prime minister and the nation's top court.

The anti-Park demonstrators were calling on the president to abide by the impeachment bill and vacate power. Park's lawyers have submitted a list of challenges regarding the ruling to the Constitutional Court, which is still deliberating as it decides whether to validate the bill.

Demonstrations in Seoul (picture-alliance/dpa/Y. Ji-Woong)

Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the city as they called on Park to resign

Park is allowed to maintain the title of president and remain in the Blue House until the court reaches its decision. It has 180 days to make a ruling.

Saturday also saw a substantial number of Park supporters demonstrate - the first time they've gathered in the streets of the capital since November.

Südkorea Rede von Präsidentin Park Geun-Hye (picture-alliance/dpa/Jeon Heon-Kyun)

Park faces allegations of corruption thanks to her association with the daughter of a late cult leader

A country in crisis

Scandal hit Park's Saenuri Party last year when opponents accused her of aiding the criminal activities of her secret confidante, Choi Soon-Sil, the daughter of a deceased cult leader. Choi allegedly used her intimate relationship with Park to enrich herself and to promote the president's policy agenda.

Choi was later indicted and Park apologized for her behavior, although she denied any wrongdoing. She has also refused to step down, igniting fears of a protracted legal crisis in the country, which is currently grappling with slow economic growth and an increasingly belligerent North Korea.

The de facto leader of the country is now Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who never held elected office prior to the scandal. Protestors have called on him to resign as well.

If Park's impeachment is validated or she steps down, an election will be held within 60 days to pick a new leader.

blc/tj  (AFP, Reuters)

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