President impeachment boon for Korea Inc.

By Lee Min-hyung

The Constitutional Court’s unprecedented decision to oust President Park Geun-hye is drawing an optimistic outlook for the nation’s businesses.

A faster power transition is expected to alleviate the months-long political and economic uncertainties, and boost weak consumer confidence, corporate officials said Friday.

The court upheld the impeachment Friday morning, removing the nation’s first female president embroiled in the nation’s worst-ever political scandal.

Acting Constitutional Court President Lee Jung-mi said Park had abused her power to help her close friend Choi Soon-sil by damaging and hurting companies’ freedom and management.

Officials in the nation’s corporate circles here welcomed the court decision, calling it a right move.

They said this would speed up getting the nation’s semi-anarchy situation back on track and help them draw their mid- to short-term business blueprints faster than expected, regardless of who becomes the next president.

“Most of Korean companies ― including those in the IT, manufacturing and retail industry ― are facing growing uncertainty, as the leadership vacuum failed to settle cross-border, urgent issues such as China’s economic retaliations due to Korea’s decision to deploy Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system,” an IT industry source said, declining to be named.

“Expectations are that the next president will put top priority on settling those pending economic and political issues, relieving prevalent uncertainty,” he added.

Under the current legal system, the nation has to elect a new president within 60 days of the impeachment of a former leader. If the impeachment had been dismissed, Park would have to complete her term until February next year, which officials say causes continuing uncertainty across the nation at a time when she lost the trust of the public.

Another source from the manufacturing industry said: “No matter who becomes the next president, we view the court decision as a boon in helping us set up concrete mid- to short-term plans as fast as we can.”

“We would have had to deal with a series of political and economic turmoil here and abroad if she remained in office for another year,” said the source.

This will also revive the weak customer sentiment amid expectations for a new president, according to him.

Meanwhile, the parliament impeached Park in December over the swirling scandal. She has been accused of helping Choi allegedly extort tens of billions of won from the nation’s top conglomerates such as Samsung and SK.

The latest court decision came at a time when public outrage reached its peak, with Park and Choi denying most of their allegations.

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