Our news feeds have been filled with countless coverage of the American election, and though it does deserve all our attention, we should still be aware of what is happening outside of our American bubble. Just a few days before our own election, South Korean President Park Geun-hye was caught in a scandal that now threatens her entire presidency. There have always been flaws in our political systems and governments, but is it now a trend to have distrustful and questionable people as leaders of powerful nations?
Let’s break this down: President Park Geun-hye was discovered to be taking advice from her close friend and unofficial advisor, Choi Soon-sil, the leader of a known cult called the Eternal Life Church. Park was also extremely close with Choi’s father, Choi Tae-Min, who founded the cult in the 1970s and called himself a “modern day buddha.”
After Choi Tae-min’s death in 1994, his daughter Soon-sil took over full time. Although she was never an official member of Park’s team, Choi Soon-sil used her close relationship with Park to manipulate many important government affairs over the past three years, essentially making Park a puppet. It is said that Choi had complete control over Park, as Park was a devoted follower and close friend of Choi.
Over the years Choi has taken bribes and donations from several big conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai, LG, and even the entertainment agency YG. These donations, with a total of over $68 million, went to two of Choi’s foundations. It also played a part in swaying her daughter’s admission decision to an elite university. Do we know what she used this money from foundations for? Choi has since then been arrested.
At this point, about two weeks after the unraveling of these events, there is endless discussion about impeachment and prosecution. In addition, over a million people have participated in protests throughout the country urging their government to do something about the corruption while hoping that Park will soon resign. On Thursday, November 17th, a bill was passed to allow for a prosecutor to investigate the scandal, thereby renouncing Park’s immunity and potentially her presidency. The bill for the investigation passed in the Korean Parliament by a vote of 196 to 10. To read more, please click here.
At this point there is not much more information about what will happen to Park and her position, but it is very likely that she will not see the end of her term in 2018. While Park has apologized, she has made no comment on Choi’s manipulation of important government policies, and it is likely that she still supports Choi as she has been working hard on defending and getting her friend out of prison.
If Park is impeached or steps down, a new President must be elected within 60 days. The world is watching closely to see what unfolds next.