South Korea's Park Leaves Presidential Palace After OusterBy
Park may face criminal charges after losing immunity
Prosecutors may accelerate Park investigation, Yonhap reports
Park Geun-hye left the presidential palace and returned to her private residence in Seoul, two days after South Korea’s highest court removed her from office.
Hundreds of her supporters waited for her arrival outside her home in the Gangnam area of the capital, according to footage broadcast by YTN. Min Kyung-wook, a lawmaker with Park’s Liberty Korea Party, read a statement that he said was from the former president.
"I feel sorry that I couldn’t finish up my presidential duties," he cited Park as saying, according to YTN footage. "And I thank the people who have trusted and supported me. I will embrace all these consequences. It may take time, but I believe the truth will be cleared after all."
Park has now lost her presidential immunity and may have to defend herself against criminal charges stemming from allegations she pressured top business executives, including Samsung Electronics Co. heir-apparent Jay Y. Lee, to donate tens of millions of dollars to foundations run by a close friend in return for government favors. Prosecutors are considering accelerating the investigation and issuing a travel ban against Park, Yonhap reported, citing people close to the prosecutors.
The court’s decision led to a massive rally late Friday and Saturday in downtown Seoul to celebrate her removal, while thousands of her supporters protested against the decision in front of the court Friday and near the downtown Saturday. Three people at a pro-Park demonstration died after clashes with police.
The Constitutional Court ruled that Park violated the constitution and other laws throughout her term and abused her presidential powers for the personal gain of her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil. Both Park and Choi have denied wrongdoing. The ruling upheld the parliament’s vote in December to impeach Park. Her removal will lead to a special election to be held by May 9.