2016 South Korean political scandal
The 2016 South Korean political scandal (최순실 게이트) is a South Korean political scandal involving the influence of Choi Soon-sil, the daughter of a shaman-esque cult leader, over president Park Geun-hye.
Widespread coverage of this began in late October 2016.
Choi Soon-sil has known President Park since the 1970s when Choi's father, Choi Tae-min, was then-president Park Chung-hee's mentor as the family was still grieving from the assassination of then first-lady Yuk Young-soo. Choi at that time claimed that the shamanic leader can channel communication to her dead mother.
Ewha Womans University night college controversy
In July 2016, Ewha Womans University was selected as a support program for Lifelong Education College. Choi Kyung-Hee succeeded in financing the Ministry of Education. In September 2016, Ewha Womans University students requested 1,939 complaints to the National Assembly and the government. In the end of September 2016, there was a connection between financial support and admission by the Park Geun-hye administration as a result students have called the school to scrap a plan to launch a night college which they claim would damage the university's reputation as the nation's top women's university.
Several news media including JTBC and the Hankyoreh reported that Choi, who has no official government position, had access to confidential documents and information for the president, and acted as a close confidant for the president. Choi and President Park's senior staffs including both Ahn Jong-bum and Jeong Ho-sung have used their influence to extort W77.4 billion (~ $75M) from Korean chaebols – family-owned large business conglomerates – and set up two culture and sports-related foundations, Mir and K-sports foundations. Choi is also accused of having influenced Ewha Womans University to change their admission criteria in order for her daughter Chung Yoo-ra to be given a place there.
The Supreme Prosecutors' Office of Korea (SPO), in laying charges against Choi and two former presidential aides, have alleged that President Park colluded with the three in certain criminal activities. The president will be questioned by prosecutors, the first time this has occurred with a serving South Korean president.
On October 25, 2016, Park publicly acknowledged her close ties with Choi. On October 28, Park dismissed key members of her top office staff while her approval ratings fell to 5%. Her approval rating ranged from 1 to 3% for Korean citizens under 60 years of age, while it remained higher at 13% for over 60 years age group. It is the worst ever approval rate in Korean history and worse than the 6% approval rating of former President Kim Young-sam, who was widely blamed for forcing the Korean economy into the Asian Financial Crisis.
On 29 November 2016, Park offered to resign as President, and invited the National Assembly to arrange a transfer of power. The opposition parties rejected the offer, accusing Park of attempting to avoid the process of impeachment.
The revelations about the relationship of Park Geun-hye and Choi Soon-sil caused mass demonstrations in Seoul. Protesters called for the resignation of Park Geun-hye. On Nov. 12th, more than 1 million citizens participated in the protests at Gwanghwamun Square close to presidential residence demanding President Park's resignation or impeachment. On Nov. 19th, another 1 million citizens participated in the national protest after President Park refused to help the investigation of her abuse of power.
On 3rd December 2016, three opposition parties agreed to introduce a joint impeachment motion against President Park Geun-hye. The motion, which will be signed by 171 of 300 lawmakers, will be put to a vote on Friday, 9th December 2016.
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- "들불로 번진 2주연속 '100만 촛불혁명'…26일 300만 예고". news.nate.com.
- "Dreaming of a new world, one million candles again burn nationwide". english.hani.co.kr.
- "South Korea's Opposition Parties Move to Impeach President Park Geun-hye". Wall Street Journal. December 3, 2016.
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