South Korea: Impeached leader Park Geun-hye leaves presidential palace in disgrace

Disgraced South Korean leader Park Geun-hye left presidential Blue House on Sunday (March 12), two days after a court impeached her over a corruption scandal. She was bound for her private home and faces the possibility of prosecution and jail.

Park left the compound in a motorcade of fast-moving black cars, flanked by police motorbikes, after bidding farewell to staff, an official said. She headed for her home in the Gangnam District of the capital, Seoul, where hundreds of flag-waving supporters waited.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Friday (March 10) to uphold a parliamentary vote to impeach Park, dismissing her from office over an influence-peddling scandal that has shaken the country’s political and business elite.

A snap presidential election will be held by May 9.

Park, 65, is South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office.

Her dismissal followed months of political paralysis and turmoil over the graft scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in jail and facing trial.

The crisis coincides with rising tension with North Korea and anger from China over the deployment in South Korea of a U.S. missile-defense system.

Park did not appear in court on Friday and she has not made any comments since. She remained in the Blue House, prompting some grumbling from critics keen to see her stripped of the privileges of power.

Her dismissal marked a dramatic fall from grace of South Korea’s first woman president and daughter of Cold War military dictator Park Chung-hee.

It was not the first time she has had to leave the Blue House compound of traditional-style buildings at the foot of a hill in central Seoul.

In 1979, after a nine-day funeral following the assassination of her father, the young Park left Blue House with her siblings for a family home. She had been acting first lady after her mother was shot and killed in an earlier failed assassination attempt on her father.

Now, having lost presidential immunity, she could face criminal charges over bribery, extortion, and abuse of power in connection with allegations of conspiring with her friend, Choi Soon-sil.

Both women denied wrongdoing.

(REUTERS)