Korean Presidential Candidates Fail to Criticize China and Do Not Attend Ceremony Honoring Sailors Killed By North Korea

ROK-US relations could be interesting in the coming years considering how many of the liberal Presidential candidates have plans to appease China and North Korea:

However, only a minor opposition Justice Party has proposed a resolution against China’s increasing pressure on South Korea. In the past, the opposition lawmakers, which had showed a pro-China attitude under former President Roh Moo-hyun, contributed to worsening the relations between South Korea and the U.S. They are now calling for reversing the decision on the deployment of missile defense system, while not making any complaints about China’s irrational retaliatory actions against South Korean companies. Will they show the same attitude if the U.S. comes up with similar retaliatory behaviors?

China stood on North Korea’s side over the sinking of the Cheonan on March 26, 2010. Furthermore, the U.S. had to eliminate its plan on military drills against North Korea with its aircraft carrier in the West Sea after meeting with strong opposition from China. The second West Sea Defense Day Ceremony was held at the Daejeon National Cemetery on Thursday in order to honor and remember soldiers killed from the sinking of the Cheonan, the second battle of Yeonpyeong and the bombing of Yeonpyeong Island. However, opposition party members, including leading presidential candidates, Choo Mi-ae, head of the main opposition Democratic Party, and Park Jie-won, head of the People’s Party, did not show up at the event. It seems that opposition party members are putting a presidential election over national security, making the public feel anxious about South Korea’s national security if they win the election in May.  [Donga Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Danish Authorities Announce that Chung Yoo-ra Will Be Extradited Back to South Korea

It is pretty clear that Danish authorities waited until the political drama concluded in South Korea before decided to send Chung home.  I think this was smart on their part because they protected her from clearly being used as a tool to get a political outcome.  With the impeachment of Park Geun-hye she is now no where near as valuable to the political opposition:

The Danish prosecution said Friday it decided to extradite the daughter of ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s close friend for an investigation into a high-profile scandal that removed Park from office.

“It is the assessment of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions that all conditions to extradite a South Korean woman to her home country are met,” the prosecution said in a press release.

Chung Yoo-ra was arrested in the European country’s northern city of Aalborg in January as the Korean investigators put her on a wanted list. It was suspected that she received inappropriate academic and financial favors based on her mother’s close ties with the former leader.

“Chung Yoo-ra has three days to decide whether she will bring the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions before the Danish courts,” the prosecution said. “If that happens, the District Court of Aalborg will be the first instance.”

Chung’s lawyer reportedly informed the Danish prosecution that Chung will appeal the decision.

“We believe this is highly political, and we have a fear that they want her to be able to press the mother,” Peter Martin Blinkenberg was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

ROK Presidential Election to Be Held on May 9th

The next Presidential election will soon happen in the ROK:

Korea will elect its next president on May 9, the government said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, acting president since Park Geun-hye’s presidential impeachment on Dec. 9, 2016, hosted a cabinet meeting and endorsed the plan.

Interior Minister Hong Yun-sik held a press conference and announced the date. Election day will be designated a holiday.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

Impeached President Park to Be Interview By Prosecutors Next Week

It will be very interesting to see if the prosecutors get anything to stick to Park Geun-hye:

Prosecutors said Wednesday they have informed former President Park Geun-hye to show up for a questioning on March 21, 2017. Park will be questioned as a suspect in an abuse of power and corruption scandal.

The Constitutional Court permanently removed Park from office on Friday, lifting the presidential immunity that has shielded her from criminal prosecution. A special investigation team headed by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office chief Lee Young-ryeol is currently investigating the allegations.

Independent counsel Park Young-soo handed over unfinished cases against Park to the prosecution last week. The special investigation team, which started the initial probe into the scandal involving Park, her inner circle and large business groups at the end of last year, was revived.   [Joong Ang Ilbo]

With Park Out, Japan Comfort Women Agreement Could Be Next to Go

The below article once again uses the term that Japan has not given a “sincere apology” for its transgressions during World War II, but I have yet to see these critics demand that China apologize for their transgressions during the Korean War that killed millions of Koreans and ensured the continued division of the country.  The same Chinese government is now actively trying to economically punish the country for defending itself from the Kim regime the Chinese continue to back.  Despite all of this just one guy can be found protesting outside the Chinese embassy while critics can’t wait to end a security deal with Japan that enhances the ROK’s security:

Calls are expected to mount for reconsideration of former President Park Geun-hye’s controversial policies following her removal from power, Friday.

They include the county’s sex slavery deal with Japan, which has drawn strong protests from victims.

In accordance with the agreement in 2015 to resolve disputes over Tokyo’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II, Japan offered 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) to give aid to the surviving victims of wartime sex slavery. But it still has faced strong objections from opposition parties and civic groups, arguing that Tokyo has yet to offer a sincere apology for its wrongdoings conducted during the 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korea.

The country’s leading presidential contenders, including Moon Jae-in from the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung, have called for a reassessment of the accord.

The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Tokyo is one of the Park administration’s key policies that is likely to be reviewed.

The military intelligence-sharing pact — signed in November last year — has stirred up a strong backlash from opposition parties and civic groups, who accused the Park government of pushing for it despite the then growing calls for Park to step aside from all state affairs due to the corruption scandal involving Park and her long-time friend Choi Soon-sil.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Judge: Former President Park Removed from Office “to End Bad Political Customs”

For people who have followed South Korean politics for many years what former President Park was removed from office for is something that past Presidents have arguably done.  How many shady corruption scandals have past ROK Presidents’ family and friends been involved in?  For example Park’s shady friend is no where near as bad as former President Kim Dae-jung’s cash for summit scandal with North Korea.   The ROK Constitutional Court says it has decided to end the bad political customs that have effected Korean politics with their ruling.  I guess we will see if in the future every ROK President is now impeached for corruption scandals involving close friends or relatives:

“The president must exert her powers in respect to the Constitution and laws and her performance of her public duty must be transparently revealed for public evaluation,” Lee said. “But Park completely hid Choi’s intervention in state affairs. Whenever suspicions were raised, she denied and even criticized those raising the questions. Therefore, the checking and monitoring ability of constitutional institutions such as the National Assembly and media failed to function.”
(……..)

The court also announced supplementary opinions regarding Park’s alleged nonfeasance during the Sewol ferry’s sinking, in which 304 passengers died on April 16, 2014 due to a weak government rescue operation. Although the judges agreed that her nonfeasance during the tragedy could not be used as grounds for dismissal, Judges Kim Yi-su and Lee Jin-sung said Park did fail her constitutional duty to faithfully serve as the president and a public servant. Judge Ahn Chang-ho also gave the opinion that the impeachment trial was not an ideological contest, but a matter of protecting the constitutional order, and dismissal was necessary to end bad political customs. [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Two Protesters Dead After President Park’s Impeachment Upheld By Constitutional Court

Could you imagine what the body count would be if the Constitutional Court did not approve the impeachment?:

Emergency medical crews treat a pro-Park protester who collapsed after having breathing problems on a street in front of Anguk Station, near the Constitutional Court, Friday. / Yonhap

Two people died and five were hurt on Friday during a demonstration protesting the Constitutional Court’s decision to impeach former Korean President Park Geun-hye. The incidents happened near the court in central Seoul.

The court’s eight judges announced their unanimous decision before noon.

A man surnamed Kim, 60, was found unconscious near Anguk subway station, near the court, about 12:15 p.m., according to the National Police Agency. He was taken to a hospital but died.

A man in his 70s, surnamed Kim, was found with a head injury near the station. He was bleeding heavily and taken to a hospital but also died.

Five protesters were injured, according to Newsis. A man in his 50s was injured after falling off the roof of a police bus near the station about 1:50 p.m. Reports said he stabbed himself in the abdomen, saying “I will save the President risking my own life.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Impeachment Ruling for President Park Coming Within 24 Hours

The time is set for the ROK Constitutional Court to announce their ruling on the impeachment of President Park:

This image shows President Park Geun-hye (R) and Lee Jung-mi, acting chief justice of the Constitutional Court. (Yonhap)

The Constitutional Court will deliver its ruling on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye Friday, a court official said.

The announcement will be made at 11 a.m. and broadcast live from the main courtroom, court spokesman Bae Bo-yoon said Wednesday.

If the court upholds the impeachment, Park will be permanently removed from office and South Korea will be required to hold a presidential election within 60 days.

If the court rejects her impeachment, Park will be immediately reinstated to serve out her term through February.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I would not be surprised to see riots in the streets if President Park is not impeached.  On the flip side if she is impeached I am really curious to see what the evidence against her is?

President Park Geun-hye Named as A Bribery Suspect By Prosecutors

I am really curious what evidence the prosecutors have against President Park that she committed bribery because I have yet to see any?:

South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye was named a bribery suspect on Tuesday as special prosecutors wrapped up their three-month probe into a massive influence-peddling scandal.

The probe team, led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo, suspects that the president colluded with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil and took bribes from the country’s largest conglomerate Samsung Group in return for business favors, its spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said.

President Park, currently awaiting the Constitutional Court’s decision on her impeachment, will not face charges for now as an incumbent president has immunity from criminal indictment.

State prosecutors will decide whether to continue with the investigation into Park as the deadline for the special probe team expires Tuesday.

Special prosecutors indicted Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung, on charges of giving or promising some 43.3 billion won (US$38.3 million) in bribes to the president’s jailed friend Choi in return for the government’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.  [Yonhap]

I would not be surprised if the prosecutors named her as a bribery suspect just to appease the mobs of protesters knowing full well they don’t have any evidence to charge her.

Ahn Cheol-soo Changes Position On Deployment of THAAD to South Korea

It looks like the Korean political left is slowing coming around the the realization that the deployment of a THAAD missile defense battery to South Korea is in the security interest of the ROK:

Ahn Cheol-soo

Ahn Cheol-soo

The second largest opposition People’s Party is in a heated debate over whether to drop its opposition to the planned deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery on South Korean soil.

The party adopted its official stance against THAAD in July last year soon after Seoul and Washington announced their decision to deploy the system this year to better deter nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. At the time, the party cited the negative impact on Seoul-Beijing relations and strong protest from local residents over concerns about detrimental health and environmental effects.

The move to change such a stance comes as some members, including former co-chair and leading presidential hopeful Ahn Cheol-soo said the situation has changed. They cited the North’s latest missile launch, which showed significant progress in its missile technology, as well as the apparent assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Malaysia last week.

“South Korea and the United States have already concluded an agreement on the deployment,” Ahn said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.