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South Korea Scandal
South Korea’s Park Impeached in Parliament

South Korea’s Parliament voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye on Friday, in what appears to be the beginning of the end for the scandal-beset leader. But President Park is not going gently into that good night. The New York Times:

The vote against Ms. Park, the nation’s first female leader, followed weeks of damaging disclosures in a corruption scandal that has all but paralyzed the government and produced the largest street protests in the nation’s history. Her powers are suspended while the Constitutional Court considers whether to remove her from office.

Ms. Park suggested that she intended to fight her impeachment, telling cabinet members hours later that she would “calmly” prepare for the court trial and giving no hint that she would resign. […]

The impeachment motion, accusing Ms. Park of “extensive and serious violations of the Constitution and the law,” will now be taken up by the Constitutional Court, which has six months to decide whether the charges are true and merit her ouster.

South Korea is facing a multipronged crisis as it copes with economic stagnation, worsening social divisions, nuclear saber rattling from North Korea and an increasingly emboldened China. A leadership shakeup could bring about a serious change in how Seoul approaches these issues.

On the security front, for instance, Park has taken a hawkish stance toward Pyongyang that has pleased Washington but rankled China. Her decisions to allow the deployment of U.S.-made THAAD missile defense systems and her pursuit of an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan have particularly provoked Beijing’s ire. And such moves have not been without controversy at home. Moon Jae-In, the leader of South Korea’s Democratic Party and a likely contender in the next presidential race, has criticized the missile deployment as a needlessly provocative move and urged a more balanced approach between Washington and Beijing.

We may soon see what that approach looks like. If the Constitutional Court upholds the impeachment, early elections loom, and Park’s liberal critics could very well take the reins of the next government in Seoul. In that case, the Trump administration will need to grapple with a South Korean government inclined to a more accommodating position toward Beijing: yet another complicating factor in an already volatile Asia.

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  • Disappeared4x

    A cautionary tale indeed. Let South Korea demonstrate their hard-won democracy without nannywordwringing as if South Korea solely exists as a toddlertool of American foreign policy.

    Is it too ironic to read NYT coverage of the impeachment of “…the nation’s first female leader, followed weeks of damaging disclosures in a corruption scandal that has all but paralyzed the government and produced the largest street protests in the nation’s history. …” as ‘fake news’ planted by ‘Russian’ operatives to [fill the blank] because Comey said what?

  • Dhako

    Finally, you folks are surely (even if bit slowly) getting there in understanding the political and strategical intricacies which pertains in Asia. And that reality is what most nations in this regions has to gingerly make the best of it. And that is, apart from Japan, who is basically, Uncle Sam’s faithful vassal, that, come rain or sunshine, under any government of any kind, can be expected to follow the latter as well as the spirit of what Uncle Sam desires for Japan to do. Hence, you can say, that apart from Japan, most of all the other countries have some room to maneuver, strategically, particularly if they are confronted with China (who may mean business, in every sense of that word) on one hand; and Uncle Sam, who seems to not to know what he really desires from this region other than wishing that his “age-old primacy” should be not challenge by anyone, on the other hand. In other words, Ms Park, may have played a “dalliance” with Uncle Sam in-terms of given the go-ahead for the deployment of the US’s THAAD system. But that as it so happened, had a cost (strategically, economically, and politically) to South Korea.

    And it was a matter of weighting the “cost-benefit-analysis” of that decision by Ms Park. And quite evidently, notwithstanding her current political cliff-hanger at the constitutional court, the opposition party in parliament, were of the opinion that she took a wrong turn when she accepted the US’s entreaties to deploy these system in South Korea’s jurisdictional territory, despite the fact China made abundantly clear its displeasure of it. Which means regardless of what the court has in store for her, the last word of US’s THAAD system in South Korea, hasn’t been spoken by any long short up to now. Moreover, as they say, “geography is destiny”, as Cuba or Mexico could ruefully attest to, given that it was a well known Mexico’s famous fellow, who was said: “Poor Mexico, far away from God and very close to Americans” (or words to that effect), when he was describing his nation’s political fate that is tied at the hip with whatever US decides to do.

    Similarly, regardless of what US’s Geo-strategical theoreticians may propose for South Korea, the fact of the matter is, China, a practical neighbor, will have a telling (or even a decisive impact) as to what will transpire in the Korean’s peninsula. This is the fact the US’s elites are yet to “emotionally accommodate” themselves with it. But in time that will be easy for them, particularly, when finally the South Korean’s political elites summon the courage to say to their American’s counterparts that regardless of how appreciative they are of US’s defensive umbrella, what can’t be overlooked by them is the fact that China (due to it’s growing power in this region) will have to be involve in this “strategical matrimony” between the US and South Korea, as the “third party”, even if Uncle Sam, on his part, were to find this whole strategical “ménage à trois” a bit of a distasteful trysts, to say the least. This is the reality on the ground in South Korea in which the incoming new leadership of South Korea, will be telling the incoming Trump’s administration.

    • Tom

      Shorter Dhako: China does nothing wrong ever and everyone besides those corrupted by Western barbarians will place te Middle Kingdom in its rightful position and pay it tribute. Pay no attention to the myriad environmental, demographic, economic, and political issues that China has.

      • JR

        Thank you for giving me the Cliffnotes version.

    • JR

      Do you think the power and prestige of China is a monotonically increasing function or does it have the normal ebb and flow. Money wants out of China. Do they know something that maybe, just maybe, you don’t?
      Anyway, back to watching Homer Simpson for me.
      And shorter, dude, shorter.

    • ——————————

      Dhako, are you jonesin’ for a job at TAI, or do you just have diarrhea of the fingers?
      Comments should be shorter than the articles.

      Now I have to go take aspirin….

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