President Park Geun-hye of South Korea was unanimously impeached by the Constitutional Court on March 10 on conditions of internal corruption, according to an article by The Korea Times. The decision was in response to a scandal involving Park’s personal friend, Choi Soon-sil, where they both worked together to extort millions of dollars for two of Choi’s organizations.
Saeyoung Park, a South Korean senior studying hospitality and tourism management, said, “With this as momentum, the world, including politicians, will no longer ignore the Korean people. It is not easy to correct all corruption and abuse of power, but at least Korea is opening a new chapter.”
Sanha Lee, a senior from Gunpo, South Korea studying information technology, said “Impeachment of the president was definitely appropriate... She committed the crime and she did not deserve to be a president of the country. As a result, she is now imprisoned and investigated by the prosecution.”
A Gallup Korea poll revealed that 77 percent of South Koreans were in support of Park’s impeachment, according to CNBC News. Following the exposure of the scandal, an estimated 1.5 million South Koreans gathered in central Seoul to protest Park and her correlation to the corruption scandal, according to The New York Times.
The Korean Times reported, “The impeachment motion, signed by 171 opposition and independent lawmakers, passed overwhelmingly with 234 in favor, 56 against, two abstentions and seven invalid votes in the 300-member Assembly.”
Saeyoung said, “It was a shame that our President embezzled the taxes of the people and let innocent people sacrifice for her own sake. When she was sentenced to be impeached, I felt democracy won. It was a moment when justice was truly realized. I could feel how today will be recorded in history. It may leave a shameful history, but at this moment we can confidently say to our descendants that justice is still alive.”
Kimball Heaton, a sophomore from Utah studying biomedical science, said, “I believe a leader is someone who will help the people they lead [achieve] worthy and notable goals. If a leader is not living up to their responsibilities, they have revoked their right to be a leader.
“According to the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court of Korea, it was [justified], and I agree. Park chose to knowingly violate the laws she had promised to uphold, making the punishment fair, well-measured, and just.”
Kenzie Howells, a junior from Utah studying TESOL and vocal performance, said, “People should be able to remove a leader who betrays their trust. Just from hearsay, that seems to have been the case in South Korea and I feel that those who voted her into office are justified in voting her out.”
Auburn Bertuccini, a sophomore from California studying international cultural studies, said, “I understand how it would be difficult for the [Korean students] to hear about the turmoil and scandals in their country and continue to live their lives as students.
“From those I’ve talked to, they are all relieved and hopeful for the future of Korea. I’m happy for the citizens of Korea. The impeachment has seemed to unite them.”
Howells said, “The overall reaction seems to be one of joyful relief. While some of the transition time may be frightening, this is a significant opportunity for people, all over the world even, to mindfully re-evaluate what they want in their elected leaders.”
Sola Oh, a senior from South Korea studying vocal performance, said, “I think it was justified. She did so many ridiculous and inappropriate things as a president.”
Though Choi never held an official position in the cabinet, CNN reported Park gave her “advance access to presidential speeches and other documents,” and discussions between the two led to forcing companies to “donate millions of dollars to foundations she runs.”
Oh continued, “I was glad for the impeachment but at the same time bittered that this kind of thing is happening in Korea. Most of the people are happy about it because we’ve been fighting for this for a long time, and it happened at last. I believe we will recover this as we did in the past… as people of Korea.”
South Korea will now hold a snap election on May 9 to elect a replacement for Park, according to AP.