|People hold a candlelit rally at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul to celebrate the Constitutional Court’s removal of President Park Geun-hye from office, Friday. / Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
By Kim Bo-eun
The candlelit rallies which continued for over four months finally brought about the Constitutional Court’s ruling, Friday, supporting the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye for her involvement in a massive influence-peddling scandal, according to local analysts.
“Park’s impeachment showed that the nation’s power belongs to the people,” said Song Ju-myung, a professor at Hanshin University.
“The people’s voice effectively pressured the impeachment bill’s passage, the launch of the independent counsel team investigating the scandal and finally the Constitutional Court’s ruling upholding the impeachment,” Song said.
The weekly Saturday rallies at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul began Oct. 29, following the eruption of the scandal in which President Park was found to have allowed her confidant Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs and enjoy various privileges and benefits.
While the first protest started with 200,000, the number of participants continued to grow, setting a record 2.32 million, Dec. 3, after Park’s third national address on the scandal, in which she said she would leave her resignation up to the National Assembly. The people’s voice prompted lawmakers to pass the impeachment bill Dec. 9.
Organizers of the candlelit rallies estimate an accumulated 15.87 million took part over 19 consecutive weeks. The scale and duration of the protests have been unprecedented in modern Korean history. Despite the large crowds, however, the rallies were peaceful, even after pro-Park members started joining in. Participants of the candlelit rallies kept order, and even cleaned up the streets after the protests.
The impeachment has given a sense of hope to the people, who have learnt that they can bring change when they protest against injustice.
Choi agreed, stating “based on the process of the impeachment, Korea has taken a step closer to becoming a mature democracy.”