Choi Soon Sil Gate Quagmire

by 김언정기자 posted Nov 29, 2016


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South Korea's protests calling for President Park Geun-Hye’s resignation has continued on for five weeks. Last weekend marked the largest turnout on the street so far.

By Anna Kim
Staff writer

South Korea’s President Park Geun-Hye’s approval ratings have plummeted  to an unprecedented low of four percent last week. A plethora of citizens have rallied throughout the country demanding the resignation of President Park.

What is going on in the country? Why have protesters been in raging waves, gathering on the street and holding up candles at the freezing night? Choi Soon Sil, a long-time confidante of President Park, would be an answer.

There are many allegations that President Park let Mrs. Choi, who has been arrested of extortion from the Korean conglomerates such as SK, Lotte, and Samsung, also known as “The Choi Soon Sil Gate,” meddle in state affairs and have access to government confidential documents, although she had no official position.

Mrs. Choi was also accused of having influenced Ewha Womans University to change its admission criteria in order for her daughter Chung Yoo Ra, equestrian player, to be accepted in. It is not too much to say that she has wielded extensive behind-the-scenes influence on all aspects of government decision-making. Mrs. Choi was nothing short of taking advantage of a relationship with President Park, who has been denounced as some sort of avatar of Mrs. Choi.

On top of that, Park’s aloofness from her own advisors and avoidance of public scrutiny have exacerbated public outrage. Purportedly, she conducted only one press conference a year, just a scripted affair.

New factors in regards to the case have kept coming into the light and incredible anti-government protests have kept climbing. 1.5 million citizens took to the street in Seoul on the fifth straight weekend of protests calling for President Park’s resignation. Protesters marched a few hundred meters from the presidential Blue House, chanting “Park Geun-Hye! Step down! Immediately!"

The marching gathered stream and the line looked like a humongus human-made belt.

I came here because I wanted to show my children that people are the owner of this country, not the power holders,” 47-year-old company employee Shim Ku-Il said in an interview with a media. “The Republic of Korea shall be a democratic  republic.”

Despite the sea of people, the protest was in order and almost a cultural festivity. There was no riot, no confrontation. The protesters even gave the police a hug and attached flower-shaped stickers on the windows of the police squad cars just like embodying nonviolent fight. This was what a real uprising should look like and a guiding light of mature civil society.

However, President Park was premature in statecraft. Prosecutors have identified President Park as a criminal accomplice in the Choi Soon Sil Gate, confidently saying that they have secured a bunch of hard evidences about President Park’s wrongful and illicit acts. They also deplored President Park’s incompetence and the political corruption morass.

Now, where does South Korea go from here?

What is happening at the Blue House is just like a soap opera,” said a young protester to a media, on the fifth demonstration last weekend. “We just hope that it will end like a soap opera---with level-headed justice.”


박근혜 대.jpg

President Park Geun-Hye.

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Protesters have been in raging waves, gathering on the street and holding up candles.

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The marching gathered stream and the line looked like a humongus human-made belt.


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