A crystal clear messageThe Constitutional Court endorsed the legislature’s motion to impeach President Park Geun-hye on Friday through a unanimous vote from an eight-member bench. Park has been stripped of her title and powers that were suspended after the National Assembly voted on the charges against her on Dec. 9.
Park has been pulled down from the highest position in the land months before her term was to end next February. In other words, she was dethroned. She was the second Korean president to be impeached by the National Assembly, but President Roh Moo-hyun was reinstated through a Constitutional Court ruling. She has left a disgraceful precedent in Korean history.
It is even more sad since she was our first woman president and second-generation president. But she brought doom on herself because of her strange relationship with Choi Soon-sil. She must take the consequences of her own missteps.
Of the five key reasons the National Assembly impeached her for, the Constitutional Court agreed with two. Park allowed Choi to pursue selfish interests by borrowing her elected power and therefore violated the Korean constitution and domestic laws. She was involved in leaking classified materials and funding and operating foundations that Choi created with corporate funds. She also joined in the selfish pursuits of various enterprises set up by Choi’s inner circle.
Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi said, “Such actions went against the Constitution, Public Employees Law and Public Ethics Code as well as undermined the representative democracy system and judiciary foundation of this nation.” Moreover, the president vigorously tried to hide Choi’s wrongdoings and criticized the National Assembly and media for suspecting her, Lee said.
The court reiterated that national governance under the law must be fairly and transparently carried out. By directly or indirectly helping Choi seek selfish gains, the president impaired the property rights of enterprises and the sovereignty of their management, the court said.
It finally concluded that the president did not have the “will to uphold the Constitution” because she refused to cooperate with prosecutors even after she promised to faithfully cooperate with fact-finding procedures.
“The president’s violations clearly have betrayed the public trust, which cannot be tolerated in the constitutional context,” Lee said.
The court’s message was crystal clear: even the president cannot be above the law.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 11, Page 26