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The president is not the owner of the country.
A president of this country is elected through an indirect democracy. It is through the indirect democracy that the whole nation doesn’t directly vote on a policy, instead, they elect their representative and authorize him to decide the policy. Also, it is specified in the Korean Constitution that all authority is derived from the nation, who naturally has the authority.

대한민국 헌법 제1조

  1. 대한민국은 민주공화국이다.
  2. 대한민국의 주권은 국민에게 있고, 모든 권력은 국민으로부터 나온다.

In other words, a president who is elected through an election exerts the power that the people gave. By the way, what if the president abuses that power? What if someone, not the president, who wasn’t authorized through the election, exerts power?

Recently, a dramatic political scandal happened in Korea. The 18th president, Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil abused the nation’s power. There is no doubt that citizen who originallyhas power, got angry. Then, they ran out into the street to fight injustice. Finally, the matter moved to an impeachment motion in the National Assembly, which accused Ms. Park of extensive and serious violations of the Constitution and the law. On December 9th, 2016, 200 Korean lawmakers, two-thirds of all members, voted yes to impeach the President. Then, Ms. Park’s official authority was suspended.Now, the Constitutional Court will decide whether she is guilty and whether the charges are serious enough to merit impeachment.

South Korean Political Scandal (Choi Soon-sil Gate)

Here are the 5 reasons for impeachment which are defined by the Constitutional Court. First, I willintroduce the main figures involved in the scandal to help you understand overall scandal.

① Leaking Confidential Government Documents

A name, Choi Soon-sil started to be known to Koreans after October 24th, 2016, when journalists atJTBC reported about her. The press reported that 40 drafts of the President’s speeches were given to Ms. Choi for review, even though she held no official post and had no security clearance. She freely viewed these documents. Moreover, the prosecutors say that Ms. Park told her aide, Jung Ho-sung to give 180 sets of government documents, 47 of them classified, to Ms. Choi between January 2013 and April 2016.

② An Infringement on the Freedom of the Press

When the suspicions about President Park and Ms. Choi were found to be true through the reportslisted above, Ms. Park immediately released a statement of apology to the public. Although she admitted that she had a help from Ms. Choi and apologized, many thought it was too insufficient for belated regrets and apologies to handle the publics’ unrest. In addition, people became more angry, because it turned out that she previously tried to dismiss a suspicion about Ms. Choi, which wasreported about 3 years ago, which was the complete opposite attitude of the public apology.

A story was written by an executive officer that Jung Yun-hwae, Ms. Choi’s ex-husband, who held no official post at that time, regularly met Ms. Park’s aides and intervened in the government administration. It was leaked to the newspaper and presented by The Segye Times. After pressure was applied by the Blue-House, 3 journalists and the CEO of The Segye Times resigned, which is an example of suppressing the press. In other words, the President, who ought to control influential people in shadow like Ms. Choi, suppressed the press which reported their tyranny. In this case, the freedom of the press was clearly infringed.

③ Extortion, Abuse of Power and Bribery

Ø In a series of meetings in July 2015, Ms. Park and her Blue-House asked the chairmen of eight large companies to contribute to Mi-r Cultural Foundation and K-sports Foundation, meant to promote Korean culture and sports. Since then, the conglomerates (Samsung, Hyundai, SK, LG, Posco and Lotte) have given about $80 million to two new foundations. These twofoundations were started and run by Ms. Choi and Cha Eun-taek with the help of the presidential aides.

Ø Ms. Choi started a sports management company called The Blue K in January 2016. Then, she coerced conglomerate Lotte into donating $6 million for a sports complex that the company hoped to build and manage. Also, she established the company, Widec Sports, in Germany with her daughter, Jung Yu-ra, as co-representative in July 2016.

In fact, Ms. Choi hoped to raise funds which were contributed from the large companies through The Blue K and siphon them off overseas, Widec Sports. Additionally, Ms. Park seemed to solicit the bribes, because she conspired with unauthorized people and overlooked the suspicious funds of the foundation.

④ Conspire with People in Shadow Cabinet: Illegal Intervention

Ø Prosecutors say that Ms. Choi told presidential aide, Jung, to contribute the conglomeratefunds for her company and to give her policy plans from Cabinet meetings.

Ø Dae-han Airline got two calls about personnel matters from one of President Park’s aides and promoted someone who was referred on the calls in 2016. Especially, the aide mentioned his superior, which connoted the president, on second call. Also, it turned out through the presidential aide, Ahn Chang-bum’s pocket book that she directly intervened in the personnel affairs of the companies, Posco and KT.

Ø At the same time, prosecutors investigated the accusations against Ms. Choi with her shadowcabinet. She was suspected of intervening with personnel in the Military, diplomats and the Korea Customs Service. It turned out that people close to Ms. Choi and Mr. Cha intervened with these various personnel decisions.

When Ms. Park announced a candidate for president, she promised that there are no promotions which is influenced from the private connection. However, she didn’t keep that promise, but took the lead in illegally intervening in personnel matters. It is clear for Ms. Park to step down her position.

(Quotation and Reference works) 페이지 하단 기재

< Sang-hun. Choe, (Dec. 8th. 2016), Claims Against South Korean President: Extortion, Abuse of Power and Bribery, The New York Times[Online]>

⑤ The Responsibility of the Sinking of the Sewol

The sinking of the Sewol

The worst accident in Korea happened on April 16th, 2014. The Sewol ferry with 476 passengers started to sink at about 8:50 a.m., gradually listing to port. The three hundred and twenty-five passengers were just 18-years-old. When the maritime police arrived and started the rescue, they were in a tight situation because the ferry was tilted toward the left, making evacuation difficult. The ferry capsized at 10:31 a.m., making it impossible to rescue passengers inside. The ferry completely sankwith 304 people still on board

The Person in Charge Evaded a Responsibility

The Disaster Response Division couldn’t effectively direct any rescue, but they also failed to make an accurate headcount of the passengers, adjusting their subtotal nine times. They even deeply hurt concerned families, by initially misreporting that “everyone was rescued”.

As soon as the ferry started to sink, the captain and chief crews were the first to abandon the ferry. However, most of passengers just waited and I imagine shaking with anxiety on the ferry which no longer had a captain, they were waiting for new announcement, following the original announcement“Do not go out, just stay in the ship and wait for rescue.” The “captain” of Korea, who ought to protectthe people’s life, the President Park disappeared without a trace for 7 hours. In addition, she received a written report on the day of the sinking and didn’t provide any direction except for saying “Rescueeveryone”. Her incompetency frankly came out.

When a group put in danger, a leader has the responsibility to try to save the group and member, which means providing leadership. However, in this disaster, our leader was not seen anywhere.

The Owner of a Country is People

Run onto the street to illuminate errors hidden in the dark

It was known through a great number of media sources that President Park tyrannized and aimed topromote her private interests with Ms. Choi, in late October, 2016. The first public assembly called “Assemble! Resent! Step down, Ms. Park!” was held across the country on October 29th. This assembly was created to call on Ms. Park to explain various public suspicions, including Ms. Choi and a shadow cabinet. Also, it is its prevailing demand that she should acknowledge her mistakes and step down, being responsible as president. After that day, people have continued to assemble every Saturdays with a candlelight procession to brighten the shaded current situation. Although she didn’t answer the people’s request for her to step down, people who are naturally the owners of the country,finally brought her to justice through an impeachment vote.

“Fight until the end and continuously struggle through our name and our mindset as Hongik-studentsfor the recovery of democracy.”

The people’s voice for the clouded situation resonated at Hongik-university on October 28th. Also, Hongik-university declared their concern for this crisis in front of the government office in Sejong, uniting with Korea university. Additionally, a candlelight assembly was held on November 3rd.

Editorial – ‘Power to the People, Stick it to the Man’

In the late 18th century, France was filled with people’s resentment, because the aristocracy was trapped seeking luxury and pleasure. People who couldn’t stand the abuse and the absurdity of elitepower anymore, started a revolution, demanding freedom and equal rights. Finally, people got back their rights, by fighting with the royal authority and executing their king at the guillotine. Meanwhile, the guillotine appeared in a Korean candlelight rally, too. The one, Choi Soon-sil, who couldn’t get power through democracy, wielded influence with a president and won lucrative contracts through large companies. Therefore, Koreans created a guillotine as a symbol for the recovery of their democracy. Asa Korean citizen, I participated in a large rally held in Gwang-hwa Moon and marched, demanding Ms. Park’s prompt judgment of impeachment and justice against the people who are in higher position, who are implicated in the abuse of power scandal. In Gwang-hwa Moon is a remembrance for the victims of Sewol. While I was at the candlelight protest, I visited this Sewol Memorial and was just moved to tears, looking vacantly at the portrait of the victims who were just 18-years old at the time of disaster.They were the same age as me and lost their life because of an incompetent leader. Nothing can enrage me more than that.

If you didn’t participate in a rally, it is not too late, just go and claim your rights! Your actions will become a page of history.

Park Jiwon  wldnjs971105@naver.com

<저작권자 © 홍익대영자신문사, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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