After Weeks of Protest, Crowds in South Korea Celebrate Park's Impeachment | NBC Southern California
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

After Weeks of Protest, Crowds in South Korea Celebrate Park's Impeachment

Protest organizers said about 600,000 people turned out on Saturday

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Protesters carry an effigy of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye as they march toward the presidential house during a rally in Seoul Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. Shifting from protests to celebration, large crowds of South Koreans were expected to march near the presidential house on Saturday to cheer the impeachment of disgraced president over an explosive corruption scandal. The sign read "Impeach Park Geun-hye immediately."

    The previous time South Korea's parliament voted to impeach a president, ruling party lawmakers bawled and hurled ballot boxes, a man set himself on fire in front of the National Assembly, and thousands glumly held candlelight vigils night after night to save late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun.

    Twelve years later, the mood couldn't have been more different, with massive crowds returning to Seoul's streets on Saturday, a day after lawmakers voted in favor of removing disgraced President Park Geun-hye. The vote for impeachment left protesters basking in pride, believing that they had repaired a damaged democracy with their weekly demonstrations.

    Thousands of people marched near streets close to the presidential palace where the notoriously aloof Park will remain mostly alone for up to six months until the Constitutional Court rules whether she must step down permanently.

    Carrying signs, flags and yellow balloons, they gleefully shouted for her to quit immediately rather than weather the court process.

    The demonstrators waved their arms to the beat of gongs and drums and followed an effigy of Park dressed in prison clothes and tied with rope into a narrow alley near the presidential offices and residence, known as the Blue House.

    "Park Geun-hye, get out of the house! Get out of the house now!" the marchers chanted.

    Flight Attendant's Behavior Questioned Following Altercation

    [NATL-BAY] Flight Attendant's Behavior Questioned Following Altercation

    One day after an American Airlines flight attendant became entangled in an altercation with passengers, his employer is investigating whether or not he was out of line. Thom Jensen reports.

    (Published Sunday, April 23, 2017)

     "Come down and go to jail!"

    Seemingly, tens of thousands of demonstrators packed a large nearby boulevard, which was the center of massive protests in recent weeks. 

    "We got off to a good first step (on Friday). It was a day when we all realized how strong we can collectively be," said Kim Hye-in, 51, an out-of-towner who spent her sixth consecutive Saturday in Seoul protesting against Park. "But we aren't there just yet. We need to keep gathering strength and protest until the court officially removes her from office." 

    Protest organizers said about 600,000 people turned out on Saturday. On Friday, the opposition-controlled parliament passed an impeachment motion against Park, which stripped her of her presidential duties and pushed Prime Minster Hwang Kyo-ahn into the role as government caretaker until the court rules on Park's fate.

    Drive-Thru Pot Dispensary Opens in Colorado

    [NATL] Drive-Thru Pot Dispensary Opens in Colorado

    When you think of a drive-thru, fast food probably comes to mind. But what about marijuana? Tumbleweed Express Drive-Thru in Parachute, Colorado, is the first of its kind. After nearly a year of preparation, the drive-thru pot shop opened for business on 4/20. 

    "Their timing couldn't have been better in my opinion, I mean everybody wants to celebrate," said Kyle Steele, a customer at the drive-thru.

    (Published Friday, April 21, 2017)

    The impeachment came after millions of people demonstrated for weeks demanding the removal of Park, who state prosecutors accuse of colluding with a longtime friend to extort money and favors from South Korea's biggest companies and to give that confidante extraordinary sway over government decisions. Park has apologized for putting trust into her friend, Choi Soon-sil, but has denied any legal wrongdoing.

    In 2004, the Constitutional Court reinstated Roh after two months, saying that minor election law violations and accusations of incompetence weren't enough to justify his unseating as president. The chances of the court restoring Park's powers are considered low because her charges are much graver, although some believe the court will need more than a couple of months to decide because her case is more complicated than Roh's.

    Park will be formally removed from office if at least six of the court's nine justices support her impeachment, and the country would then hold a presidential election within 60 days. 

    While the historically large protests that helped push lawmakers to vote to impeach Park have been peaceful, the festive atmosphere kicked up a notch on Saturday as demonstrators let out relief that the president they so desperately want removed was finally halfway out the door.

    Protester, Official React to Arkansas Execution

    [NATL] Protester, Official React to Arkansas Execution

    Just before midnight Thursday, Arkansas announced it had executed death row inmate Ledell Lee. He is the first of four inmates scheduled to die before the end of the month when a crucial lethal injection drug is set to expire. A protester and a spokesperson for the governor reacted to the controversial execution.

    (Published Friday, April 21, 2017)

    "We accomplished a peaceful revolution," said Park Seong-su, a frequent anti-Park protester who faces a court trial for throwing what he said was dog feces at a Seoul prosecution office on Oct. 31 as Choi, Park's now arrested longtime friend, arrived for questioning.

    "For long, people were told by politicians what to do, but on Friday, it was the will of people that forced politicians what to do." 

    Others weren't as comfortable, saying that protesters should continue to rally every weekend to apply pressure on the court until it decides to formally remove the president.

    Kim Hyeong-seok, another protester, said that the weekly rallies may turn violent if the court decides to reinstate Park.

    Bill O'Reilly Ousted At Fox News Channel

    [NATL] Bill O'Reilly Ousted At Fox News Channel

    Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was officially pushed out at the network. This comes after O'Reilly had paid out more than $13 million to five different women over allegations of sexual harassment. In a statement, 21st Century Fox said, "After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel." O'Reilly has denied any wrongdoing.

    (Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017)

    "Then the candles will turn into torches," he said.

    There was tension Saturday hours before the large demonstration when thousands of Park supporters, most of them in their 60s or older, rallied in nearby streets, waving the country's flags and shouting for Park's "demagoguery impeachment" to be nullified.

    Some of them exchanged bitter diatribes with anti-Park protesters.

    Similar scenes played out on Friday when scuffles broke out between angry anti-Park farmers, some of whom had driven tractors to the National Assembly, and police. When impeachment happened, many of those gathered — some 10,000, according to organizers — raised their hands in the air and leapt about, cheering and laughing.

    Columbia Student Opens Restaurant in Dorm Room

    [NY-NATL] Columbia Student Opens Restaurant in Dorm Room

    Pith, a small bistro created by Columbia senior Jonah Reider and run out of his dorm room's communal kitchen, is the hottest restaurant in town after opening just two weeks ago. John Chandler reports.

    (Published Thursday, April 20, 2017)

    On Saturday, Hwang, as the acting president, held a meeting with Cabinet ministers at a government building near the presidential Blue House to discuss issues related to national security, foreign relations and financial markets. 

    The handover of power prompted the prime minister on Friday to order South Korea's defense minister to put the military on a state of heightened readiness to brace for any potential provocation by North Korea. No suspicious movements by the North were reported.

    The impeachment is a remarkable fall for Park, who convincingly beat her liberal opponent in 2012. Park's single, five-year term was originally set to end Feb. 24, 2018.

    The political turmoil around Park comes after years of frustration over a leadership style that inspired comparisons to her father, slain military dictator Park Chung-hee.

    Critics saw in Park an unwillingness to tolerate dissent as her government cracked down on press freedom, pushed to dissolve a leftist party and allowed aggressive police suppression of anti-government protests, which saw the death of an activist in September.

    She also was heavily criticized over her government's handling of a 2014 ferry sinking that killed more than 300 people, mostly school students, and was partially blamed on official incompetence and corruption.