South Korea (GPA) – After over a month of protests, South Korean President Park Geun-hye has announced she is “willing to resign.”
The protests started due to a scandal exposed in a 2007 diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks that raised concerns that Park was being almost completely influenced by her wealthy religious confidant Choi Soon-sil who is being referred to by many as the “Korean Rasputin.” Park has denied these rumors, but South Korean media claims they have uncovered further evidence that proves illegal activity.
South Korean television network JTBC claimed they had uncovered a tablet that included speeches Park had yet to give and past speeches that had been edited by Choi.
Choi was detained at the beginning of the month and then released but was arrested and charged again on November 20th. Two of Park’s aides have also been arrested in connection with the scandal. The Secretary for Policy Coordination, Ahn Jong-beom is suspected of encouraging wealthy donors to give to charities run by Choi and presidential aide Jung Ho-sung is accused of passing classified documents along to the religious leader.
President Park can not be indicted while she is still in office but has been named as a criminal suspect by South Korean authorities. Opposition parties suspect this is the reason Park won’t just resign but has instead offered to leave the matter up to parliament.
Park claims this is to ensure that there isn’t a power vacuum after she leaves office but the opposition in parliament say this is the president’s last ditch effort to avoid leaving office. Youn Kwan-suk, a spokesman for the opposition Democratic Party said that this move was “a trick” and that “what people want is her immediate resignation, not dragging out and dodging the responsibility to the parliament.”