South Korean court upholds President Park's impeachment, removing her from office

South Korea's Constitutional Court on Friday (March 10) formally removed the impeached President Park Geun-hye from office over a corruption scandal that has pushed the country into a political turmoil. In what is being called "the trial of the century", the heir to the Samsung empire went on trial Thursday alleged to have made payments of up to $38 million to Park and her adviser Choi Soon-sil.

Surveys before the latest ruling showed that 70 to 80 per cent of South Koreans wanted the court to approve Park's impeachment.

The ruling instantly strips Park of her powers and also her immunity against prosecution.

Sensing history, thousands of people - Park supporters, many of them dressed in army-style fatigues and wearing red berets, and those who wanted Park gone - gathered around the Constitutional Court building and a huge public square in downtown Seoul to watch the verdict live on a big television screen.

Park did not appear in court, and a spokesman said she would not be making any comment.

More news: 97-year-old twin sisters likely froze to death steps from home

The court said she leaked many documents in breach of a rule on securing official secrets and violated the law by allowing Ms Choi to meddle in state affairs, according to news agency Yonhap.

Shortly after Friday's decision was announced, South Korea's defense minister Han Min Koo warned the country's military to be on alert for the possibility of North Korean "strategic or operational" provocations attempting to exploit "unstable situations at home and overseas", according to AP. Well, I guess the big question now is how soon prosecutors will summon her for questioning and what kind of punishment she will face if found guilty of the multiple charges against her. Thank you, Ho-jun, for that.

Nov 29, 2016: In her third televised apology, Park asks parliament to decide how and when she could give up power over the scandal.

With the decision, which is final and unchallengeable under Korean law, Park has become the nation's first successfully impeached president. Their investigations have led to the arrests of former government officials as well as Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung who is accused of bribing Park in return for business favors. All have denied wrongdoing. Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, now remains in custody following his arrest on February 17 over bribery charges. He was indicted on charges including pledging 43 billion won ($37.24 million) in payments to Choi.

  • Toni Ryan