Seoul (AFP) – South Korea’s ousted leader Park Geun-Hye was holed up in the presidential Blue House Saturday as protesters took to Seoul’s streets demanding her arrest, a day after a court upheld her impeachment.
Some 20,000 angry pro-Park flag-waving protesters rallied near the City Hall, demanding a review of the one-off decision. Police set up barricades to keep the rival protests apart.
A third person died Saturday in hospital after he lost consciousness the day before in a clash between pro-Park supporters and riot police, near the Constitutional Court which confirmed her impeachment.
An incredulous Park immediately phoned her aides to confirm the verdict, the Chosun Ilbo daily said.
Her aides told the newspaper she had no immediate plans to issue a statement on the court decision or her future course of action.
“She wants to keep to herself for a while,” he added.
Park is obliged to move out of the presidential palace, where she has been cloistered for more than 90 days after the National Assembly voted for her impeachment in October.
The court’s verdict immediately stripped her of all powers and privileges, except for her security.
– ‘Growing concern’ –
Yonhap said the third victim was a 74-year-old man who collapsed during a demonstration near the Constitutional Court.
“The vote must serve as a chance to overcome divisions and conflicts and achieve national unity and harmony,” he said in a speech aired live on TV.
The main opposition Democratic Party urged Park to accept the court ruling, saying she was behaving as if she rejected the decision, which was reached unanimously by the court’s eight judges.
Park was found to have broken the law by allowing her friend Choi Soon-Sil to meddle in state affairs, and breached rules on public servants’ activities.
The ruling removed her presidential immunity to criminal indictment.
She has already been named a criminal suspect, accused of bribery for offering policy favours to firms that benefited Choi.
For months she has refused to make herself available for questioning by prosecutors probing the scandal.
But that may no longer be an option once she leaves the Blue House, when she could face formal arrest if she refuses a summons.