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.
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.
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]
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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
Things can change very quickly in South Korean politics as ROK Presidential front runner Moon Jae-in knows very well:
South Chungcheong Governor An Hee-jung’s approval rating for this year’s election rose to 19 percent in the latest poll, proving him to be a formidable contender to frontrunner Moon Jae-in and raising the prospect of a hard-fought Democratic Party primary.
In a poll by Gallup Korea, the 51-year-old two-term governor came in second with 19 percent, trailing Moon, who won 29 percent of support.
While An is still 10 percentage points behind Moon, the latest poll is an encouraging sign for his supporters considering the fast pace at which his popularity has risen: 9 percent in a matter of one week.
The poll has reaffirmed the strong position the governor has secured in recent days, as seen by the growth of his public appeal, while Moon, who ran in the 2012 race and was bitterly defeated by President Park Geun-hye, is struggling to raise his rating beyond the 30 percent range.
Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn came in third with 11 percent, up by two percent from a week earlier, demonstrating continued support from conservative voters disheartened by the Choi-gate scandal, which led to President Park’s impeachment.
Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung and Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party followed with 8 and 7 percent each. [Joong Ang Ilbo]
You can read more at the link, but what is interesting is that An Hee-jung is raising his poll number by making himself the only liberal candidate so far who has come out to defend the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system to Korea.