Two People Have Died in Protests Following Park Geun-hye's Impeachment

Over a million South Koreans are believed to have participating in mass protests across the country and, under significant public pressure, Park Geun-hye offered her resignation on November 29, confirming Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn as acting President - and leaving the National Assembly to decide her fate.

The next South Korean presidential election will likely to be held in early May, and the Minjoo Party's Moon Jae-in remains the frontrunner, according to the latest polls.

While the protests have largely been against Park, a vocal minority of supporters also packed streets, calling to "impeach the impeachment" and restore her as president.

An independent investigator claims the former president was an accomplice to Choi in attempting to extract 43bn won (£30.9m) from the technology giant, saying the two friends "shared economic interests", the Korea Herald reports. Liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost to Ms Park in the 2012 election, now enjoys a comfortable lead in opinion polls. Moon Jae-in, liberal and leader of the Democratic Party, is now ahead in the polls. China is also vehemently opposed to the roll out of a U.S. missile defence system in South Korea, which began this week.

The decision meant Park became the first democratically elected leader of South Korea to be stripped of office.

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Parliamentary lawyer Kwon Sung-Dong urged the court to confirm her impeachment and protect South Korea from "enemies of democracy". Election of someone with such views would be good for South Korea, Beijing and the region.

Park's impeachment and the current trial of Samsung's Lee highlight the deep dissatisfaction that many in South Korea have grown to feel towards political and business elites, many of whom have been seen as corrupt and untouchable.

Samsung Group leader Jay Y. Lee has been accused of bribery and embezzlement in connection with the scandal and is in detention. Chief Justice Lee said it was unconstitutional for Park to have let her confidante, Choi Soon-sil, a civilian with no official government position, meddle in state affairs, and that Park abused her power to collude with Choi to extort money from conglomerates.

The stunning and sudden collapse of Park's presidency was caused by allegations that a multi-million dollar influence-peddling scandal was being run out of the Blue House.

For months, Ms Park has been caught in the midst of a corruption scandal, and now could face criminal charges.

  • Douglas Reid