South Korea’s Park is willing to resign as impeachment looms

President Park Geun-Hye has been rocked by allegations that an old friend used her influence to meddle in state affairs and financially benefited from the relationship.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

No South Korean president has failed to finish a term since the current democratic system was introduced in 1987.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye asked parliament on Tuesday to find a way for her to give up power after allegations that she is being influenced by a close friend.

Park is facing the worst crisis of her four-year presidency and is under pressure to resign. It is alleged her close friend Choi Soon-sil meddled in state affairs and forced companies to donate funds to non-profit foundations.

"I will leave to parliament everything about my future including shortening of my term," Park said in a brief televised speech.

"I will step down from my position according to the law once a way is formed to pass on the administration in a stable manner that will also minimise political unrest and vacuum after ruling and opposition parties' discussion."

Park has previously apologised for being careless in her friendship ties with Choi Soon-sil but refused to step down.

Park’s decision comes two days before parliament is set to vote on whether she should be impeached.

South Korea's main opposition the Democratic Party has already rejected her offer which they described as a tactic to escape being impeached.

"She is handing the ball to parliament, when she could simply step down," Democratic Party lawmaker, Park Kwang-on said.

"She is asking the parliament to pick a date for her to resign, which she knows would lead to a discussion on when to hold the presidential election and delay everything."

A political science professor at Myongji University Shin Yul also agreed. 

"She doesn't want the parliament to impeach her and she doesn't think that the parliament can soon reach an agreement, so she is making things complicated and trying to shift some of her blame to the parliament," Yul said.

Hundreds of thousands rallied on Saturday, for the fifth weekend in a row, calling for Park's resignation.

Park’s term in office is scheduled to end in February 2018. No South Korean president has failed to complete a term since the current democratic system was implemented in 1987.

If Park is impeached or steps down, an election would be held in 60 days to nominate a president to serve a five-year term.

TRTWorld and agencies