South Korea’s Park leaves presidential palace after impeachment

Media captionPark Geun-hye was greeted at home by hundreds of supporters

Ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-hye has now left the presidential palace, two days after judges upheld parliament’s decision to impeach her.

Ms Park arrived at her home in southern Seoul amid waving supporters.

She has been impeached over her role in a corruption scandal involving close friend, Choi Soon-sil.

In her first words since Friday’s ruling, Ms Park said in a statement: “Although it will take time, I believe the truth will certainly come out.”

She also apologised to her supporters for “failing to fulfil my duty as president”.

Ms Park has now lost her immunity and could face criminal proceedings over accusations she allowed Ms Choi to extort money from companies in return for political favours.


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Ms Park left the presidential complex, the so-called Blue House, shortly after 19:00 local time (10:00 GMT) on Sunday after saying goodbye to her staff.

A huge motorcade carried her to her home in the Samseong district.


BBC Korea correspondent Stephen Evans sees an upbeat returnee

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Reuters

Park Geun-hye was ferried to her private residence in Seoul in a black limousine, chased by a posse of journalists on motorbikes. When she arrived, she waved to cheering supporters, smiling broadly, and shook hands with political allies.

She may yet face prosecution and a trial in an ordinary criminal court. Her demise has split the country, with her increasingly vocal supporters saying she is a victim of a political decision.

Her demeanour outside her new residence was upbeat and full of smiles. It was not the demeanour of a disgraced, regretful politician.


Ms Park emerged from her limousine amid a police presence of about 1,000 officers and her security detail had to push back the crowds.

Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is loyal to Ms Park, is now the acting president.

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AFP

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A huge motorcade took Ms Park from the Blue House

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Reuters

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She will now live in her two-storey residence in Samseong district

The country’s election commission says a “free and fair” vote will be held by 9 May at the latest.

The early front-runner, human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in, of the Democratic Party, warned Ms Park she “must not destroy or take the national records outside” the Blue House.

Media captionSouth Korea is split over President Park’s impeachment

Thousands of people took to the streets of central Seoul on Saturday to celebrate Ms Park’s removal, while a large crowd of her supporters occupied a nearby square.

Protests on Friday left two of Ms Park’s supporters dead, with a third suffered a heart attack and died a day later.


Why did Park lose her job?

At the heart of the drama lies the close friendship between the president and Ms Choi.

Ms Choi is accused of using her presidential connections to pressure companies to give millions of dollars in donations to non-profit foundations she controlled.

Ms Park is alleged to have been personally involved in this, and to have given Ms Choi unacceptable levels of access to official documents.

Parliament voted to impeach Ms Park in December.

On Friday, the Constitutional Court ruled Ms Park’s actions “seriously impaired the spirit of… democracy and the rule of law”.

Judges said she had broken the law by allowing Ms Choi to meddle in state affairs, and had breached guidelines on official secrets by leaking numerous documents.

Ms Park had “concealed completely Choi’s meddling in state affairs and denied it whenever suspicions over the act emerged and even criticised those who raised the suspicions,” the ruling said.

South Korea’s Park leaves presidential palace after impeachment

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