For the second time in South Korea’s short history, the National Assembly has moved to impeach a sitting president. Until the Constitutional Court gives its voice on whether or not to approve the motion, the Prime Minister will serve as acting president.
If the Constitutional Court approves the motion, it would be the beginning of a new day in South Korea’s democracy. It would be the first time that a sitting president has been lawfully and democratically removed from office - the first peaceful and legal revocation of power. Considering the mounting evidence that are being stacked against President Park Geun-hye, Choi Soon-sil, and corporate leaders, there is a very good chance that the Constitutional Court will agree that impeachment is warranted.
However, this was never just about Park Geun-hye or Choi Soon-sil. This scandal, this impeachment - everything that we have seen for the past month and a half has been far more than just the removal of a president and shadow president. It has been about government power and the corruption that surrounds it. It has been a popular movement to bring about accountability. This is a new day for South Korea’s democracy.
It would be a mistake, however, to assume that rhetoric about justice is where this story will end. Politics will rear its ugly head before too long. In fact, I’ll give it less than a day before it does.
The people’s mood has soured against anyone who has ever been associated with the Saenuri Party. It wouldn’t matter if there was anyone competent or intelligent or who possessed integrity from that party. For now, no one from that party is going to fare well with the people. As a result, the party will be dissolved and be replaced with something else. For now, it’s the Minjoo Party’s time to shine.
When they take over the reins of government, the Park administration’s decision to deploy THAAD missile batteries might be overturned. Relations with Japan may worsen by revisiting the comfort women agreement and canceling the military intelligence-sharing deal. Decisions may be made to once again pour aid toward North Korea. No effort must be spared to fight the next government’s foolish decisions.
But politics can resume tomorrow. For now, we can all catch a breath and celebrate democracy.