A huge change just as North Korea continues to amp up its missile program.
South Korea’s Constitutional Court has officially removed President Park Geun-hye from office. The country will hold a snap election on May 9.
Scandals have plagued Park, including one alleging Park helped a close friend receive “bribes from Samsung and other South Korean conglomerates.” Legislators impeached Park back in December, with a vote of 234-56, including many from her own party. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn took over, even though Park fired him in November as a way to salvage her presidency. When no one could agree on a replacement, he maintained his position.
The decision also means Park does not have immunity protection and can face “prosecutors seeking to charge her with bribery, extortion and abuse of power in connection with allegations of conspiring with a confidante, her childhood friend Choi Soon-sil, to collect tens of millions of dollars in bribes from big businesses like Samsung.”
The scandal thrust Samsung into the limelight, once thought to be untouchable since its the country’s “largest conglomerate.” A court indicted Lee Jae-yong, the de-facto head of Samsung, on charges of bribing Park and Choi.
This could also become a major blow to America as experts believe the change will cause a change “to the opposition, whose leaders want more engagement with North Korea and are wary of a major confrontation in the region.” The New York Times continues:
Moon Jae-in, the Democratic Party leader who is leading in opinion surveys, has said that a decade of applying sanctions on North Korea has failed to stop its nuclear weapons programs. He has said that sanctions are necessary, but that “their goal should be to draw North Korea back to the negotiating table.”
He believes that Ms. Park’s decision to allow the deployment of the American missile defense system — known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad — has dragged the country into the dangerous and growing rivalry between Washington and Beijing; China has called the system a threat to its own security and taken steps to punish South Korea economically for accepting it.
President Donald Trump’s administration has attempted to push through the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system before the election:
“We will firmly take necessary measures to preserve our own security interest, and the US and South Korea must bear the potential consequences,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday.
“Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea,” Adm. Harry Harris, commander, US Pacific Command, said in a news release.
The decision to deploy THAAD in South Korea was made in July of last year, and US President Donald Trump’s administration has said it’s committed to following through.
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and South Korean Defense Secretary Han Min-koo spoke over the phone last week and agreed that THAAD should be deployed “ASAP.”
The news came a day after North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.
Despite the security risks to South Korea, China has expressed outrage over THAAD. Experts said that China has concerns the countries will use the system “to spy on China’s activities, rather than monitor incoming missiles from North Korea” and it could “undermine its ability to respond to an attack on its own soil.”DONATE
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