Saturday, March 11, 2017

Random Thoughts about Park Geun-hye, Her Impeachment, and What Comes Next

I don’t know which honorific to use to refer to Park Geun-hye anymore. All former presidents, no matter how disgraced they later became, are still referred to as Former President So-and-So. But none of them was successfully impeached. So do we call her Former Saenuri Chairperson Park Geun-hye or do we just call her Park Geun-hye-씨? MBN seems to think that “Former President Park Geun-hye” is still the appropriate honorific, but I am not convinced.

And it turns out that Ms. Park (that sounds about right) has still not left the Blue House. Seeing how she has been stripped from her constitutionally-guaranteed immunity from prosecution, it may yet be possible to see her eventually led out of the Blue House with handcuffs around her wrists.

Ms. Park’s silence since the verdict is a slap in the face to every conservative in the country. Three people - people who protested against her impeachment - have died while protesting the Constitutional Court’s decision. Her supporters also attacked journalists for simply doing their job. She should have issued a statement renouncing violence. She should have urged calm. And she should have publicly announced that she, and everyone else, would accept the Court’s ruling - just like she said President Roh Moo-hyun should accept the Court’s ruling when he was impeached - regardless of the decision. Her silence is a betrayal of her supporters and the rule of law. It is indecent and a perfect example of how a leader ought not to behave. It was her final insult to anyone who had ever voted for her.

Image Source

That being said, unlike many people, I don’t take any joy in her impeachment. All I see is tragedy. Her political career lasted for 18 years and the Queen of Elections had every reason in the world to become a great leader - to exonerate her father’s legacy, to squash once and for all the accusations that she and her cronies are corrupt power-lusters, to prove that conservative values could help to lead Korea into the 21st century. She failed completely. Her impeachment was a victory for justice and Korea’s young democracy. But I take no joy in seeing her downfall.

As expected, Moon Jae-in is the man to beat in the upcoming presidential election. Anyone who has ever read anything that I had to say about him would know that I utterly despise the man. Donald Trump is already in the White House (another man whom I have nothing but contempt for) and Moon Jae-in will most likely be the next occupant of the Blue House. A toxic shit storm is brewing; and Kim Jong Un, the Fat Boy King of the North, laughs.

Seeing how he started out by opposing THAAD’s deployment to becoming ambivalent, to seemingly oppose it again, China is likely laughing, too.

This picture was taken on March 8th 2017. It says "Withdraw THAAD immediately."
Image Source

If Moon becomes president and pledges to withdraw the THAAD anti-missile batteries, China will always remember that all it needs to do to convince the South Korean government to do anything is exert just a little economic pressure and it will cave every single time. South Korea’s sovereignty will effectively belong to China. But Moon Jae-in and Choo Mi-ae will be able to say that they stood up to the United States. Never mind that amid Chinese bullying and North Korean aggression and Japanese rising militarism, South Korea’s only friend is the United States!

In short, South Korea’s dark days are not behind it. Things are going to get much darker yet.


  1. While I'm not Korean, I'm comfortable with calling her "Former President Park," out of respect to the office, not to her-- she was elected to it. Apparently, she is staying in the residential part of the Blue House only, not the administrative part. But yes, a good leader leaves his or her party in good shape, and Park has ruined Saenuri by being a princess to the end. Odd that Saenuri is not distancing itself more strongly from her.
    I feel the same way about Moon as when Quebec elected separatists to the Canadian parliament. Is it not strange to an outsider to see someone proclaimed as a leader, who would normally be arrested for treason, if not at minimum suspected of it?

  2. The Koreans perennially rail against something every year. The candle crowd protested against US beef based on some mad cow disease hysteria nearly a decade ago and proudly considered that a hallmark of democracy. This time their target just happened to be a president with a penchant for secrecy and cronyism. They blamed her for practically everything and the courts eventually punished her for more provable wrongdoings.

    Dark days are certainly ahead for Korea, and it's precisely because this isn't a victory for a young democracy. If removing a tyrant was the endgame, then we would have to consider the French Revolution or the Arab Spring as massive success stories. They weren't. The fact that hysteric mob rule and witch hunt occasionally nail the right person doesn't mean its how society should handle contentious issues. Korea's "guilty until proven innocent" impeachment process is a joke and pro Park factions can now use this impeachment precedent against any of their opposition leaders.

    Power shifts are inevitable. The right is on the rise in the US, and what passes as the "left" in the American sense of the term will rise in Korea. That in and of itself is not a threat. Moon Jae In could turn out to be a more moderate president, especially with the Olympics around the corner. The problem was and will always be KOREA. A protest culture against corruption without embrace of any actual reform is meaningless. Many Koreans will almost certainly oppose economic liberalization and a more open market to loosen the Chaebol grip. The just love to gripe and complain about unchanging situation.