Protests rage as S. Korea's Park yet to vacate presidential residence
March 11 (UPI) — Tens of thousands of South Koreans crowded the streets of Seoul on Saturday, alternately celebrating and protesting the ouster of Park Geun-hye as president, though she has yet to speak or vacate her official residence.
Three pro-Park demonstrators have been killed in clashes between the two sides, though one death was reportedly an accident. A speaker on a bus fell on the man’s head, NPR reported.
Park, an icon of the country’s aging conservative political establishment, was removed from office after the nation’s Constitutional Court upheld the Legislature’s overwhelming impeachment vote in December. Public opinion polls show more than three-in-four South Koreans supported her removal from power amid sprawling corruption and bribery allegations.
Park has yet to speak publicly following the court’s decision Thursday. She has yet to vacate the Blue House, the nation’s official presidential residence. Aides said she has not left because her private residence is undergoing renovations and her move there requires more time for preparation.
A snap election will be held in the next two months to elect her replacement and opposition liberals are expected to gain control of the government.
Jubilant crowds celebrated her removal Saturday and called for her arrest. While president, Park was immune from prosecution. Now that she has been stripped of her authority she likely will face criminal charges of bribery, extortion and abuse of power.
While the protests have largely been against Park, a vocal minority of supporters also packed streets, calling to “impeach the impeachment” and restore her as president. They referred to her impeachment as a “political assassination” an vowed to resist the decision.
Park was elected the nation’s first female president in 2012, largely on the support of older conservative Koreans who revered her father, the nation’s authoritarian president for 18 years.