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

South Koreans celebrate ouster of President Park Geun-hye
(Image credit: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

On Friday morning, South Korea's Constitutional Court voted to remove President Park Geun-hye from office, upholding her impeachment by the National Assembly in December. Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi read the unanimous ruling from the eight-member panel on national TV, saying Park committed "acts that violated the Constitution and laws" and that "betrayed the trust of the people and were of the kind that cannot be tolerated for the sake of protecting the Constitution."

The judicial and legislative ouster, a first for South Korea, caps a scandal involving Park, her childhood friend and adult confidante Choi Soon-sil, and some of the country's biggest business executives. Choi, two former presidential aides, and several business executives — notably Samsung acting chairman and heir apparent Lee Jae-yong — have already been indicted in the sprawling scandal. Park, 65, not only lost the presidency Friday but also her legal immunity, opening her up to prosecution for bribery, extortion, and abuse of power. South Korea will hold new elections within 60 days, and the liberal opposition Democratic Party is expected to take power for the first time in a decade. Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn will stay in office in the interim.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.