South Korean President Park Geun-hye, was impeached Friday by parliament after she was involved in an influence-peddling scandal. South Korea’s first female president is being accused of allowing a close friend, with no government position and security clearance, to gain access to official documents, decide on political matters and allegedly extort companies to her benefit.

The 300-member Assembly passed the impeachment motion by a vote of 234 to 56 on Friday. There were two abstentions and seven nullified ballots. After knowing the result, Park Geun-hye stated she “seriously” accepted citizens voices. She added she hopes for an end to the corruption and influence-peddling confusion, which involves Park and her long-time friend Choi Soon-sil, reported a local source, The Korean Times.

South Korean President
South Korean President Park Geun-hye speaks at an emergency meeting held in Seoul on December 9. Image credit: EFE/Stringer.

The parliamentary decision suspends Park from performing her duties as president of the nation. Now, the Constitutional Court must decide whether to uphold the motion or not, which could take up to 180 days. Park’s duties will be temporarily assumed by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

Park continues to retain her title of President of South Korea even when Prime Minister has assumed the presidential authority. Hwang Kyo-ahn responsibilities are not clear since there are no laws stating the prime minister’s powers and limits when assuming as acting leader. 

There are two views on this matter: Prime Minister should take on the position doing the minimum to keep the administration operating, or he should entail full powers of the presidency.

The Constitutional Court has the last word

The Constitutional Court has 180 days to decide if the parliament’s request for impeaching Park-Geun-hye should be taken into consideration or not. Six or more of the court’s nine judges must approve the motion to hear the case. If approved, the court will hear arguments from Park’s lawyers and the chair of parliament’s Judiciary Committee for the impeachment.

If President Park is not found guilty of influence-peddling charges, she would return to her duties until her presidential term ends in February 2018. If the court upholds parliament’s impeachment decision, Park would be immediately removed from office. A successor would be elected within 60 days after Park’s removal, and the new president’s term will last five years.

While waiting for the Constitutional Court’s decision and during the trial, Park will remain in the Blue House, the South Korean presidential complex, under the protection of security service. She will continue to earn her salary as president until she is officially impeached or until she finishes her term.

Park will not step down until the Constitutional Court reaches a decision

Park stated after knowing the parliament’s decision:

“From now on, I will calmly respond to an impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court and an independent counsel investigation in accordance with the procedures laid out in the Constitution and the related laws,” according to The Korea Times

The same source reported that Park stated she would not step down until the Constitutional Court delivers its ruling. The opposition has told Park to leave her position once the impeachment motion arrives at the Blue House since the public disapproves her alleged actions.

South Koreans took the streets during the past weeks to protest against Park for letting her friend Choi Son-sil manipulate government affairs and extort money from companies to benefit her owns. Choi was said to advise Park on major political decisions despite not having a government position.

Source: The Korea Times