South Korea deeply divided over impeachment

Park Geun-hye

The court sided with lawmakers who impeached Park in December over allegations of corruption and influence-peddling.

Millions demonstrated every weekend on the streets calling for her to step down.

Her confidante Choi Soon-Sil, the woman at the centre of the scandal, is already on trial.

Park has not made a statement and remained holed up in the presidential palace, but would soon leave to her private residence, a spokesperson said.

"The removal of the claimee from office is overwhelmingly to the benefit of the protection of the constitution", he said.

Eight judges from the Constitutional Court assembled on Friday to issue a verdict to remove Park from office over a corruption scandal.

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In 2004, South Korea's parliament impeached another president, Roh Moo-hyun, but the Constitutional Court later reinstated him. According to opinion surveys, Liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost to Park in the 2012 election, now enjoys a comfortable lead for the presidential position.

With Park's ruling conservatives looking out of favor, it seems likely the country will turn to the left-wing opposition, which has signaled it would be likely to pursue a policy of engagement with North Korea, as opposed to the more hard line position offered by Park and her conservative allies.

Ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-hye is keeping her silence as calls grow for her arrest.

The scandal has also led to the heir-apparent of the technology giant Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, being formally indicted on multiple charges including bribery and embezzlement.

"The court's decision to uphold the impeachment of President Park of South Korea as well as the demonstrations right now are very polarizing events in politics in South Korea".

"But Park concealed completely Choi's meddling in state affairs and denied it whenever suspicions over the act emerged and even criticised those who raised the suspicions". Park is the country's first democratically elected leader to be removed from office and her dismissal and the manner in which it occurred have further damaged the political system. More than 300 people, majority high school students, died when the ferry sank.

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Prosecutors say he sought a particularly South Korean favour in return: approval for a 2015 merger that cemented his family's hold over the sprawling Samsung Group.

For months Ms Park has refused to make herself available for questioning by prosecutors.

The daughter of military dictator Park Chung-hee, Park was the country's first female president.

Park's supporters want her to stay in power.

"This is not just a victory for South Korea, this is a victory for real democracy", one commenter added. Park's Liberty Korea Party, formerly known as Saenuri, has yet to put forth a viable presidential candidate.

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