In a year with leadership changes and continuing chaos around the world, one more bit of turmoil was officially put in motion on December 9, when the parliament of South Korea voted to impeach the country’s president Park Geun-hye. She was accused of corruption and influence peddling, with 234 members of the legislature choosing to vote for impeachment, 34 over the majority.
In Guen-hye’s place is Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, though his role is largely considered to be that of a caretaker. Over the next six months the country’s Constitutional Court will determine the validity of the impeachment. After first indicating that she would resign if the parliament voted against her, Guen-hye has since decided to fight the charges to the bitter end.
Guen-hye, the daughter of South Korea’s former leader, Park Chung-hee, is South Korea’s first female president. She’s accused of allowing a longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil to not only gain special privileges but also obtain as much as $70 million.
The relationship between the two women is odd, with Soon-sil advising on non-political things like her wardrobe, but also governmental policy. That level of influence becomes even more fascinating when discovering that her father was once a cult leader. Soon-sil is currently being held in detention on various charges that include extortion.
Guen-hye’s popularity is virtually non-existent in South Korea, which once recent poll putting it at just five percent. She has refused to answer any questions from law enforcement and can’t be prosecuted as long as she remains in office.
If the Court rules in favor of the impeachment, that prosecution is expected to begin a short time later. The only other South Korean president to be impeached was Roh Moo-hyun in 2004, though the Court rejected the impeachment