Vox populiThe National Assembly’s approval of the impeachment motion on Friday showed that justice prevails in the end. President Park Geun-hye committed a grave violation of the Constitution by allowing her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, who held no title in government, to interfere in state affairs, which cannot be forgiven in any way.
As soon as the impeachment motion was stamped with the official seal of National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun, it was delivered to Park on Friday evening. At that moment, her presidential powers were suspended, and according to the Constitution, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn became acting president.
The impeachment sounded a death knell for Park’s political career. Korean politics turned a corner into a new time of political uncertainty. But this is also an opportunity to stabilize all sectors of Korean society threatened by the unprecedented abuse of power scandal. “The Korean economy has reached a crisis,” Chung said after the impeachment motion was passed. “We need to stand strong and normalize the state affairs that were at risk for the past months.”
The efforts of the antigovernment rallies, which have been held in central Seoul every Saturday night since Oct. 29, paid off. Lawmakers listened to the people’s call by approving the impeachment motion 234-56 in a secret ballot. The motion to impeach the president was supported by at least 56 lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party. Their message was clear: Park is not likely to be welcomed in Korean politics ever again.
The Constitutional Court will deliberate the impeachment’s legitimacy for up to 180 days. But with the public demand so clear, the court will likely announce its decision sooner. The Constitutional Court is unlikely to overturn the impeachment decision this time as it did with the impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004.
Korea awaits the Constitutional Court’s decision with some trepidation — but also with gratitude that the people’s voice has prevailed.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 10, Page 30