South Korean protesters call for president to step down

South Korean protesters call for president to step down

SEOUL – The Associated Press
South Korean protesters call for president to step down

AFP Photo

Thousands of South Koreans took to the streets of the capital on Oct. 29 calling for increasingly unpopular President Park Geun-hye to step down over allegations that she let an old friend, the daughter of a religious cult leader, interfere in important state affairs.

The evening protest came after Park ordered 10 of her senior secretaries to resign over a scandal that is likely to deepen the president’s lame duck status ahead of next year’s election.

Holding candles and signs reading “Who’s the real president?” and “Park Geun-hye step down,” the protesters marched through downtown Seoul after holding a candlelight vigil near City Hall. Police estimated that about 9,000 people turned out for the biggest anti-government demonstration in Seoul in months.

“Park has lost her authority as president and showed she does not have the basic qualities to govern a country,” Jae-myung Lee, from the opposition Minjoo Party and the mayor of the city of Seongnam, told the protesters from a stage.

Park has been facing calls to reshuffle her office and Cabinet after she acknowledged on Oct. 25 that she provided longtime friend Choi Soon-sil drafts of her speeches for editing. Her televised apology sparked intense criticism about her mismanagement of national information and a heavy-handed leadership style that many see as lacking in transparency.

There’s also media speculation that Choi, who holds no government job, meddled in government decisions on personnel and policy and exploited her ties with Park to misappropriate funds from nonprofit organizations.
Choi, the woman at the heart of a lurid political scandal engulfing Park, returned to the country Oct. 30 to face accusations of influence-peddling and meddling in state affairs.

Choi, who has been holed up in Germany since early September flew into Seoul early Oct. 30 on a flight from London, her lawyer Lee Kyung-Jae told reporters.

“Choi told me she will cooperate with the investigation and expressed her deep apology to the people for letting them down and causing them frustration,” Lee said.