South Korea on the Verge of Impeaching Its President: Timeline

Updated on
  • Lawmakers voted Friday in favor of motion to impeach Park
  • Park’s relationship with old friend at heart of scandal

South Korea Votes to Impeach Park

South Korean lawmakers voted Friday to impeach Park Geun-hye over an influence-peddling scandal. Her long-time friend, Choi Soon-sil, is alleged to have abused their relationship to meddle in state affairs, influence government appointments and pressure major businesses to donate tens of millions of dollars to foundations Choi controlled.

Here’s a look at the events leading up to today’s vote:

July 24, 2015: Park hosts a meeting with some of South Korea’s largest corporations and asks the executives to support cultural projects and government-sponsored “creative economy” business centers.

Oct. 27, 2015: Mir Foundation is formed. Its website says the foundation was established by “16 large, like-minded Korean companies" to promote cultural diplomacy and “elevate Korea’s national stature."

Jan. 18, 2016: K-Sports Foundation is formed. Its website says its efforts include identifying, nurturing and supporting Korean athletes.

July 27, 2016: Local broadcaster TV Chosun reports An Chong-bum, then a presidential secretary, was involved in launching Mir Foundation and collecting about 50 billion won (about $43 million) in donations from corporations.

Sept. 20, 2016: The Hankyoreh newspaper reports President Park’s long-time friend, Choi Soon-sil, may be behind the launch of K-Sports Foundation.

Sept. 29, 2016: A local activist group files complaints alleging that An, now a presidential secretary on policy coordination, and Park’s friend Choi improperly raised money for the two foundations.

Oct. 24, 2016: Local TV broadcaster JTBC, in a televised report, says it found presidential speeches in a tablet computer that was thrown away in Choi’s office. The documents include a 2014 speech in Germany outlining steps for an eventual reunification with North Korea.

Park Geun-hye offers a public apology on Oct. 25.

Source: South Korean Presidential Blue House

Oct. 25, 2016: Park apologizes to the nation in a press conference saying she was “sorry” that the scandal has caused “national concerns.” Admits to having sought advice from Choi on “some documents” for a period of time after taking office in 2013.

Oct. 26, 2016: Yonhap News reports prosecutors raid Mir and K-Sports foundations, which raised more than $70 million from conglomerates with the help of the business lobby group, the Federation of Korean Industries.

Oct. 27, 2016: Choi admits to a local newspaper that she received presidential documents but denies all other allegations including claims she unlawfully raised funds for foundations she created.

Oct. 30, 2016: Choi returns to South Korea from Germany

Choi Soon-sil is escorted out of the Seoul Central District Court.

Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg

Nov. 3, 20016: Court approves arrest of Choi, who had been detained and questioned by prosecutors since Oct. 31.

Nov. 4, 2016: In a national address, Park says she’ll cooperate with investigators and vows to take responsibility if any wrongdoing is found; Gallup Korea releases poll results showing the president’s approval rating had dropped to a then all-time low of 5 percent.

Nov. 6, 2016: Prosecutors arrest Park’s former secretaries, An Chong-bum and Jeong Ho-seong. An is accused of pressuring local companies to donate funds to foundations controlled by Choi. Jeong is charged with leaking confidential documents to Choi.

An Chong-bum arrives after enter at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in Seoul.

Photographer: Seung-il Ryu/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nov. 8, 2016: Investigators raid headquarters of Samsung Electronics Co. to seek evidence on whether the world’s largest smartphone maker illegally provided gifts to Choi. Separately, Park asks parliament to recommend a new prime minister.

Nov. 12, 2016: Hundreds of thousands of protesters calling for the president’s resignation march toward the presidential complex. Police block them from proceeding further.

Protesters hold signs and candles during a rally in Seoul on Nov. 12.

Photographer: Jean Chung/Getty Images

Nov. 12-13, 2016: Prosecutors summon heads of Korea’s largest chaebols for questioning.

Nov. 20, 2016: Saying Park had a role in the corruption scandal, prosecutors indict Choi and An for attempted coercion and abuse of authority; Park’s former aide Jeong is indicted over suspected leaking of classified documents.

Nov. 24, 2016: Investigators search the offices of Lotte Group and SK Group over allegations the companies may have given money to the two foundations in return for winning duty-free business licenses. Lotte denies the allegations. SK spokesman declined to comment.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye bows during an address to the nation in Seoul on Nov. 29.

Photographer: Jeon Heon-kyun/AFP via Getty Images

Nov. 29, 2016: Park apologizes for the third time and says she’ll resign if lawmakers can agree on an orderly transition of power.

Dec. 3, 2016: Organizers estimate 1.7 million people gathered for a candlelight rally in central Seoul. Police estimated the figure at 320,000.

Protesters gather during a rally in Seoul on Dec. 3.

Photographer: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Dec. 4, 2016: A faction within Park’s ruling Saenuri party says the group will vote for impeachment, giving the opposition just enough votes to impeach the president.

Dec. 6, 2016: Heads of nine conglomerates, including Samsung’s heir-apparent Jay Y. Lee and Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo, are summoned for a parliamentary hearing on the influence-peddling scandal.

Heads of nine conglomerates attend a parliamentary hearing at the National Assembly in Seoul on Dec. 6.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Dec. 9, 2016: South Korea’s parliament votes to impeach Park

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