By Kim Hyo-jin, Kim Se-jeong
National Assembly leaders called for the followers of the ousted former President Park Geun-hye to stop their violent protests and respect the Constitutional Court’s ruling, Monday.
Their call came as pro-Park groups are deepening social unrest following the ruling that removed Park from office, Friday.
Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun and the floor leaders of four political parties met to discuss how to unite the country, saying the legislature totally respects the ruling.
They also decided to hold a weekly Monday meeting between the floor leaders in a bid to address social confusion. If needed, they will invite ministers and senior government officials to future gatherings.
“It’s time for the National Assembly to make joint efforts to create a new country,” Chung said in opening remarks, referring to the normalization of state affairs and the upcoming presidential election as urgent challenges for the legislature.
“Now is a critical moment when politicians should carry out cooperative governance, not only between parties but also with the government, through dialogue and compromise.”
During the meeting the participants agreed on the need to urge the public to accept the court’s decision and focus on building up national unity.
Park, now the former president, said Sunday, “the truth will be revealed without fail,” though it took time for her to leave Cheong Wa Dae, leaving the general public in dismay with the remark interpreted as noncompliance with the court’s decision. Many worried it could further fuel resistance by pro-Park protesters.
It also brought strong criticism from the opposition. Moon Jae-in, the leading presidential hopeful of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), called her move “an insult to the people and the Constitution”; while Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung, another DPK contender, dismissed it as a derogatory remark designed to aggravate social conflict and confrontation.
Ahn Cheol-soo, former leader of the minor opposition People’s Party and the party’s presidential hopeful, said Park’s response was “regrettable” and urged her to respect the court’s ruling and cooperate with the prosecution’s investigation lying ahead.
Park’s move left the leadership of the conservative Liberty Korea Party (LKP), the former ruling party, bewildered too.
“We are a bit puzzled,” Jeong Yong-ki, an LKP spokesman, said during a radio interview earlier in the day. He added in an effort to quell the controversy that “it is not clear Park meant noncompliance.”
The party leaders appeared to worry that her remarks could backfire on them in the presidential election, with most people already assuming a win for the opposition.
“The impeachment should be left to history,” LKP floor leader Chung Woo-taik said. “Holding onto the issue is not working for our party.”
Park’s de-facto refusal to accept the court ruling upholding her impeachment is instigating her supporters further.
Despite public criticism, for Park supporters, her reaction was enough to start them campaigning again against the impeachment ruling.
On the supporters’ online blog, many people deplored her last public appearance, and condemned the court.
They welcomed her resilience and called for fellow supporters to join in the “fight for justice.”
Hundreds of supporters remained outside Park’s house Monday for a second day. Many cheered and chanted, “invalid impeachment.” Some stayed all night in front of the house. Others delivered bouquets of flowers to the ex-President only to be turned away by bodyguards at the gate.
It’s unclear what they will and can actually do.
Park has drawn public criticism for not admitting her wrongdoings and “destroying” the constitutional order for political gain.
“When former President Roh Moo-hyun was on trial at the Constitutional Court she urged him to accept the court’s ruling. But she is not doing that. Does she think she’s above the law?” said internet user ID ss7c*** on a Naver posting.