SOUTH KOREA NEWS
Park Outmaneuvers Opposition
At the start of this week, Park Geun-hye faced imminent impeachment. But she blindsided opposition parties on Tuesday with what appeared to be an offer of resignation. And with this game-changing move, she has effectively put off impeachment and may even avoid it all together.
Opposition parties drew up a motion for impeachment this week. They need a two-thirds majority for the motion to pass the National Assembly – which means they need at least twenty-eight members of the conservative Saenuri party to vote with them. And earlier in the week, it was looking like they had those twenty-eight votes in the bag due to an internal split within the Saenuri Party.
But that plan fell apart when Park broke weeks of silence on Tuesday to lob a monkey wrench in the process. She announced that she would be willing to step down before the end of her term if the National Assembly can ensure a “stable transfer of power” in accordance with “legal procedures.”
Protests Amp up Call for Immediate Ouster
This week’s events have fueled even more public anger and brought out 2.32 million people in protests across the country today in the sixth consecutive week of protests. South Korean media report 200,000 in Busan, 100,000 in Gwangju, 50,000 in Daejeon, 10,000 in Jeju, 12,000 in South Jeolla, 15,000 in Jeonju, 15,000 in Ulsan, 4000 in Sejong and 1.6 million in Seoul. Some held up images of Park Geun-hye in handcuffs and prison garb.
Workers Strike for Park Geun-hye Ouster
On November 30, 220,000 union workers across South Korea went on strike to demand Park Geun-hye step down from the presidential office. Workers of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) in 16 different regions participated in the general strike.
20,000 of the 220,000 KCTU’s workers on strike gathered to rally in the streets of Seoul. Workers of the public sector, construction and education industries marched to protest the corporations involved in the government corruption scandal. Corporations including Samsung, SK, Lotte, GS, and Hanhwa are alleged to have contributed large sums of money to Choi Soon-sil and Park Geun-hye’s charity foundations, Mir and K-Sports. Choi is currently under investigation for using unauthorized access to government authority to collect funds from the aforementioned corporations. In addition to the conglomerates’ dealings with Choi and her foundations, the KCTU workers have criticized the Park administration’s tendencies to implement policies favoring corporate elites or chaebols over workers.
Workers chanted, “the chaebol are accomplices, arrest the chaebol!” as they marched towards the corporate office buildings of the major conglomerates. Once they arrived in front of the buildings, the protesting workers put stickers criticizing the conglomerates on the main entrances of the buildings and some wrote, “Dissolve chaebols,” with spray-paint on the walls of the buildings.
Hundreds of riot cops armed with riot gear were stationed inside the buildings of the major conglomerates in order to prevent protesters from entering. KCTU workers expressed outrage at the police for deploying riot cops to protect the buildings of the chaebols. One spokesperson of KCUT stated, “The fact that the police showed up even though there was not even a request made for the corporate facilities to be protected clearly shows how [the government] protects [the interests of] the chaebol. This only shows that the police, which is operated by our citizens’ tax money, has fallen to the level of a private security service business.”
In addition to workers going on strike, other South Korean citizens engaged in different forms of civil disobedience to protest the Park administration. 1,500 street vendors and small business owners deliberately chose not open up their business for the day and posted signs demanding Park’s resignation on the doors of their businesses. Thousands of university students also joined the civil disobedience actions by walking out of their classes or choosing to participate in protest rallies over attending school for the day.
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