Korea (FPIF) – Attacking North Korea now would undermine the very reason U.S. troops have been stationed on the peninsula for seven decades: to protect the South Korean people. “Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,”…
Even on New Year’s Eve, large crowds of South Koreans gathered to join another rally demanding the ouster of impeached President Park Geun-hye, who’s determined to restore her powers through a court trial.
Carrying signs and candles and blowing horns, people packed a boulevard in front of an old palace gate that has been the center of massive but peaceful protests in recent weeks. Marches were planned near Seoul’s presidential palace and the Constitutional Court, AP reported.
Park’s supporters rallied in nearby streets, surrounded by thick lines of police.
After over a month of protests, South Korean President Park Geun-hye has announced she is “willing to resign.”
As protests in Seoul entered their fifth week and Park’s approval rating hit an all time low around four percent she has finally been forced to consider resigning from office.
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 Korea saw hundreds of thousands demonstrating last week, with some counts stating that over one million participated in demonstrations on November 12th. Protests have now entered their fourth week. The ongoing scandal regarding embattled South Korean president Park Geun-hye’s bizarre devotion to her friend and spiritual advisor, Choi Sil-soon, is not going away anytime soon. Demonstrators called on Park to step down, stating Park was no longer suitable to be president of South Korea. Reportedly, Park allowed Choi access to classified information and to embezzle tens of millions of dollars in government funds and to dictate aspects of her life ranging from wardrobe choices to presidential speeches. Park’s approval rating is currently below five percent.
After being questioned by prosecutors, prosecutors concluded that Park colluded with Choi to embezzle money. Because South Korean presidents can only be prosecuted for insurrection or treason, Park may only be prosecuted once out of office. Regardless, Park would be the first South Korean president to be interrogated in an ongoing criminal case. This is despite high-profile cases of political corruption in the past such as Chun Doo-hwan embezzling nearly one billion dollars during South Korea’s authoritarian period in the 1980s, and the arrest of family members of President Lee Myung-bak on charges of corruption during the democratic period. The history of corruption in South Korean politics raises serious questions about the country’s political system.
South Korea and Japan reached a controversial deal Monday to share defense intelligence, Japanese officials said, despite protests from opposition parties and activists in Seoul.
Japan controlled the Korean peninsula as a colony from 1910-1945, with the legacy of the harsh rule marring relations with both North and South Korea today.
South Korea and Japan were on the verge of signing a deal in June 2012, but Seoul suddenly backtracked, with Japanese media blaming anti-Japanese sentiment among the South Korean public for the move.