A Shakeup In South Korea

Mar 27, 2017 By Matt B, Writer Intern
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South Korea has been in the midst of months of political drama. 

On March 10th, the country's first female leader -- President Park Geun-hye, was legally removed from office under charges of impeachment. 

Ms. Park's removal from office will now trigger a new election cycle with final elections to be held on May 9th. The country is temporarily led by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

South Korea's Troubled Leaders

Former President, Park Geun-hye, comes from a family of politicians. Her father, Park Chung-hee, ruled South Korea as a dictator for nearly two decades after seizing power in a military coup in 1961. He was assassinated in 1979.

After mass protests in 1980, South Korea adopted a democratic process that allows its citizens to elect their President. However, several of the country's leaders have faced troubles during their presidency. South Korea's huge and powerful family owned businesses - known as chaebol, have been influencing elections and paying bribes to win favors.  

President Ms. Park has been accused of bribing South Korean companies to contribute to her campaigns. Samsung alone contributed $37 million, and the company's heir has been arrested. Additionally, Ms. Park is said to have accumulated $70 million via bribes. The justice courts were completely in favor of impeaching her, even though a couple of its members were personally appointed by her.

What Is Next?

The reaction from the public has been varied. The younger, more liberal citizens marked the impeachment as a victory for democracy. The older generation, however, protested her impeachment. 

Prime Minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, will lead the country for a short while until new elections are held on May 9th. Two months is a short time to find qualified candidates. Moon Jae-in, a lawyer-turned-politician and a candidate from the liberal party, is favored the most. He lost to Ms. Park in the 2012 election; however, his polling numbers of 30% indicate he is a strong contender. 

Will South Korea see the conservative party of Ms. Park rise again with a new leader, or see the liberal party of Moon Jae-in take over the country's leadership? The world will be watching closely, especially with the looming threat of North Korea -- South Korea's troublesome neighbor.