Massive protest calls on South Korea president to resign

President Park Geun-Hye has been rocked by allegations that an old friend used her influence to meddle in state affairs and gain personally.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Police said more than 40,000 had turned out for Saturday's candlelight rally -- more than double the size of a similar anti-Park protest the week before.

Updated Jan 4, 2017

Tens of thousands of protestors marched through the streets of Seoul, demanding President Park Geun-Hye resign, a day after she apologised and accepted full blame for a crippling corruption scandal.

Roughly 43,000 people were at the candle-lit rally early on Saturday evening, according to police. Organisers said a growing crowd of 100,000 had assembled, making the protest one of the biggest since demonstrations in 2008 against US beef imports.

Park Geun-hye has been rocked by a scandal involving an old friend who is alleged to have used her links to the president to meddle in state affairs. Park has pledged to cooperate with prosecutors in an investigation.

Koreans have been angered by the revelations and say Park, the latest South Korean leader to be embroiled in a scandal involving family or friends, has betrayed public trust and mismanaged her government.

Her approval rating has slipped to just 5 percent according to a Gallup poll released on Friday, the lowest number for a South Korean president since such polling began in 1988.

A tearful and apologetic South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on Friday her "heart was breaking" over the political scandal that has engulfed her administration, pledging to cooperate with prosecutors in their investigation. [Reuters]

Police said they had deployed 17,600 officers and 220 units including buses and mobile barriers to Saturday's protest.

Police in riot gear lined the alleys and streets leading to the presidential Blue House as the main body of the demonstration began the march through central Seoul.

Park has sacked many of her immediate advisers over the crisis. A former aide, Jeong Ho-seong, was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of leaking classified information, a prosecution official told Reuters.

No South Korean president has ever failed to finish their five-year term, but Park has faced growing pressure from the public and political opponents to quit.

TRTWorld and agencies