|President Park Geun-hye|
President Park Geun-hye remained silent Thursday on the eve of the Constitutional Court’s ruling on her impeachment.
Some conservative politicians have asked Park to quit voluntarily before the verdict scheduled for 11 a.m. today, claiming it is the best way for the President to preserve her dignity and prevent possible social division after the ruling.
But Park’s followers in the ruling Liberty Korea Party (LKP) refuted this possibility, saying they are expecting a verdict in her favor.
Pundits say there is a slim chance of the President’s voluntary resignation, predicting she would prefer to mobilize her supporters in the post-impeachment stage by appealing to them with an image of her being victimized by the opposition and the legal system.
“I believe the President’s decision on her own fate will help orderly management of state affairs,” Lee Cheol-woo, the National Assembly Intelligence Committee head and an LKP member, said Wednesday, calling for her resignation.
The presidential office said that Park is waiting for the verdict in a solemn manner.
“Park’s attorneys have stressed that the allegations fall short of being grounds for impeachment. We hope the court will come up with a wise decision,” a Cheong Wa Dae official said.
Park reportedly has no intention to clarify her position through a press conference or an interview after the ruling.
With the President staying mute, Han Gwang-ok, the presidential chief of staff, held a meeting with senior presidential secretaries to discuss countermeasures to all possible outcomes from the constitutional court’s verdict.
“We are preparing for multiple scenarios as we cannot predict any specific conclusion,” another official said.
Political analyst Hwang Tae-soon said Park will not decide to step down as it could be seen as an admission of the corruption allegations. Rather, she will feed her supporters’ anger with the court’s verdict and use it for future momentum, he said.
“It is likely that Park will seek to rally her conservative supporters, arguing her impeachment was not the result of a fair procedure and was propelled by the opposition-led Assembly as she has done so far,” the analyst said.
The President fiercely defended herself in a January interview on YouTube channel Jeong Kyu-jae TV, calling the allegations that she colluded with her confidant Choi Soon-sil to extort major corporations “preposterous, colossal lies.”
Park’s legal representatives and politicians loyal to her have sent a strong signal that they will not accept the result if the Constitutional Court upholds the impeachment.
Yoon Sang-hyun, a Park loyalist in the ruling party, expressed his strong conviction of a dismissal of the impeachment, implying a backlash to any other result.
“Park did not actively engage in a violation of the law,” he said during a radio interview. “She must not think of voluntary resignation as she is sure of a dismissal of the impeachment by the court.”
Park’s attorneys have constantly questioned the fairness of the Constitutional Court proceedings, claiming the court justices are taking sides with the Assembly.
Lawyers Kim Pyung-woo and Cho Won-ryong have participated in pro-Park rallies, making inflammatory remarks and urging Park supporters to continue their anti-impeachment movement.
“We are not slaves. We don’t have to obey its decision,” Kim said.
Concerned about possible confusion after the court’s ruling, the united opposition bloc has stated that the ruling party and Cheong Wa Dae should accept the result.
“We are more worried about the post-impeachment era, not the impeachment ruling itself,” said Rep. Woo Sang-ho, floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea. “We need to end social division and enter into an early presidential election to build a better country.”
People’s Party spokesman Ko Yeon-ho said, “Park and the LKP should announce that they will accept the result and wait for the verdict with an attitude of repentance.”