Tens of thousands of protesters braved icy weather and slippery roads yesterday for a rally in Seoul, demanding impeached President Park Geun-Hye’s removal and the Samsung heir’s arrest for corruption.
Park was impeached by parliament last month over an influence-peddling scandal and the Constitutional Court now has to confirm the impeachment.
Protestors chanted slogans demanding the arrest of Park and business tycoons including Lee Jae-Yong, heir to the Samsung empire, calling them “co-culprits” in the scandal. Organisers put the size of the crowd at 150,000.
A South Korean court has refused to authorise the arrest of Lee, accused of bribing Choi Soon-Sil, Park’s confidante at the centre of the scandal, in return for favours.
It cited lack of sufficient evidence.
The political turmoil has brought huge numbers onto South Korea’s streets every Saturday for the past three months, urging the court to verify Park’s impeachment and calling for her immediate departure from office.
She is accused of colluding with Choi to extract money from large companies including Samsung and letting her friend meddle in a wide range of state affairs.
“Arrest Park and Lee Jae-Yong immediately,” protesters chanted loudly, waving banners and brandishing candles during the evening rally in the capital. “I was shocked and very angry. The court knelt down before Samsung,” Agnes Choi, 51, told AFP. “This shows the business empire is above the law.”
A 71-year-old retired teacher, Kim Tae-Won, said the court had missed “a good chance to teach a lesson for the country’s corrupt business tycoons”.Nearby, around 10,000 pro-Park supporters staged a rally protesting Park’s impeachment.
Police mobilised dozens of police vehicles and hundreds of officers to separate the two rival groups.
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