March 17, 2017

Korea News Analysis Featured on Democracy Now!

PBS news program Democracy Now! (hosted by Amy Goodman) featured, on March 13,  extensive coverage and interviews on developments in South Korea and tensions with North Korea. Guests were activist Christine Ahn and well-known Korea scholar Prof. Bruce Cummings. See videos (above) or transcripts (part 1, part 2).

Park Geun-hye Ousted, Presidential Election on May 9

[From Reuters] South Korea said on Wednesday it will hold an election on May 9 to choose a successor for former President Park Geun-hye, who was removed from office in a historic court ruling last week over a widening corruption scandal. Prosecutors said on Wednesday Park - the first democratically elected president to be removed from office in South Korea - would be summoned for questioning on Tuesday into the influence-peddling scandal. The Constitutional Court dismissed Park from office on Friday when it upheld a parliamentary impeachment vote in December. READ MORE

December 9, 2016

The People Have Spoken

Koreans in South Korea have a long history of massive street protests that resulted in changes of governments. The April Student Revolution of 1960 led to the downfall of the Syngman Rhee dictatorship. The Bu-Ma Mass Protests of 1979 triggered a series of events that led to the end of the dictator Park Chung-hee's repressive regime. The June Democratic Uprising of 1987 brought democratic political reforms, including direct presidential elections.  Now, massive candlelight protests of Winter 2016, which was carried out peacefully with remarkable order, have prompted the impeachment of Park Geun-hye. 

Amidst popular outcry, the Park dynasty has come to an end. Park Chung-hee, a former officer in the Japanese Imperial Army who went after Korean independence fighters, made himself a president after staging a coup d'├ętat in 1961, ruling with iron fist while suppressing popular dissent with acute brutality. Park's seemingly-endless reign ended in 1979 when his own Korean CIA chief, fearful of massive bloodshed of protesting people, assassinated his boss.  Park Geun-hye, the daughter of Park Chung-hee, was elected to presidency in 2012, under some suspicions of voting fraud and irregularities of government interference. Yet, the Park Geun-hye's demise was her own doing, as the corruption and cronyism surrounding her inner circles finally caught up with her. It can be said then that both the father and the daughter were removed from the president's office, in large part, by the popular will and action.

This is not the first time that candlelight protests and impeachment played out in conjunction in South Korea. Former president Roh Moo-hyun was also impeached in 2004, on a minor charge of electioneering that was amplified by the conservative opposition party legislators based on political motivation. During that time, candlelight protests called FOR THE RESCINDMENT of the impeachment and gave support to Roh.  In the end, the Constitutional Court overturned the impeachment and Roh returned to power.

Though the impeachment of Park Geun-hye will not be finalized until the decision of the Constitutional Court is made in coming months, the impeachment decision will likely hold due to the extent and gravity of the charges. Moreover, currently only 3% of South Koreans support Park Geun-hye and many are beginning to see the fallacies of her failed policies, such as the revision of history textbooks, agreement with Japan on the "comfort women" issue, agreement with the U.S. to place the THAAD anti-missile defense system, and the neglect and incompetent handling of the Sewol ferry disaster. The people have spoken -- coming out to the streets in millions, in six consecutive weekends.  Now, the people await the transition of power to a new government.

"The Irrational Downfall of Park Geun-hye"

"The Irrational Downfall of Park Geun-hye"

This is a slightly dated article, but gives detailed background analysis of the crisis that led to Park's impeachment. Though the author of this piece did not predict the impeachment, the millions of people in South Korea and overseas (including in the Washington, DC area)
have spoken (peacefully) and their will was reflected in the impeachment vote result.

It is notable that the pseudonym "T.K." used by this author was also used by a famous prolific writer who clandestinely exposed repressive policies of the former president/dictator Park Chung-hee (Park Geun-hye's father) in the 70s and 80s, so "T.K." is fitting for this article.


Pres. Park Is Impeached

BREAKING NEWS (from ZoominKorea):

South Korean National Assembly passes motion to impeach Park Geun-hye; 234 out of 300 legislators vote in favor of impeaching Park.

Now that the National Assembly has passed the motion to impeach Park, it is up to the Constitutional Court to decide whether to make the impeachment final in accordance with the constitution. Park will be suspended for the time being as the Constitutional Court deliberates. During this time period, the current Prime Minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, will serve as the acting president. In order for the impeachment to go officially in effect, six out of the nine judges of the Constitutional Court must agree to rule in favor of the motion within 180 days. And if Park is ruled impeachable, she is to be removed from office and investigated (and possibly prosecuted) for her involvement in the government corruption scandal. Consequently, she would be stripped of privileges normally granted to former presidents including a pension and government-provided security detail.

South Korea can also expect to see a presidential election held within two months following Park’s removal from office if the impeachment motion is approved by the Constitutional Court.

November 2, 2016

People Demand Resignation of President Park Geun-hye

[From Zoom in Korea]   On October 29, South Korean people took to the streets to demand “Park Geun-hye Step Down!” and show their outrage over Park Geun-hye’s involvement in the recent government corruption scandal. Over 30,000 people participated in the demonstration, which was three times the expected participation.

The scandal, also referred to as “Choi Soon-sil Gate,” has exposed Park Geun-hye to have shared major classified government documents with her close friend, Choi Soon-sil, who lacked official security clearance to legally access government files. Evidence has also emerged suggesting Choi’s involvement in influencing important government decisions made by Park Geun-hye during her presidency.   READ MORE

August 12, 2016

Petition Campaign in Opposition to the Deployment of THAAD in South Korea Surpasses 100,000

The "We the People" petition campaign in opposition to the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile defense system in South Korea has surpassed the 100,000 threshold mark needed to obtain an official response from the White House on the issue.

The petition campaign was initiated by Korean Americans based in the Washington, DC area and spread across the U.S., and the momentum intensified as Koreans in South Korea joined in, including citizens of Seongju where the deployment will take place,  signifying widespread opposition to the move by the South Korean government.