Socialist Worker

Celebrations in South Korea after president Park Geun-hye is forced out

Issue No. 2545

Cheering the decision of the court and saying Out of the presidential palace, in to jail

Cheering the decision of the court and saying 'Out of the presidential palace, in to jail' (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

Opposition activists in South Korea are celebrating the Constitutional Court’s unanimous decision by all eight judges to uphold the impeachment of president Park Geun-hye.

Acting chief justice Lee Jung-mi announced the verdict this morning, Friday, saying Park had "seriously impaired the spirit of democracy and the rule of law".

She added, "Her actions betrayed the people's confidence. They are a grave violation of law, which cannot be tolerated."

The decision is wholly the result of mass pressure from demonstrations and strikes. These have caused splits at the top of society as well as strengthening the movement from below.

Park has called her supporters onto the streets in recent weeks. Her lawyer said during a court hearing that “there will be blood on the road” if judges ratified the impeachment.

South Korea is a close ally of US imperialism and treats trade unionists and activists harshly. In October last year more than 20 trade union leaders and activists were in prison.

The government recently announced the sacking of 89 rail workers for participating in a two-month strike that powered the movement in its early phase.

But repression has not saved Park.

Park was suspended as president after a vote in parliament to impeach her last December. It followed revelations of her corruption and further exposures have weakened her position.

Millions of people in South Korea have taken part in the movement to oust president Park Geun-hye

Millions of people in South Korea have taken part in the movement to oust president Park Geun-hye (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

The de facto leader of the giant Samsung corporation, Lee Jae-yong, was arrested last month. On Monday the Special Prosecutor announced that Park had colluded with her friend Choi Soon-sil to receive bribes of £30 million from Samsung.

But the Constitutional Court still had to ratify her impeachment.

Protesters have taken to the streets 20 times to demand Park’s removal since October. Over 15 million people have participated.

The anti-Park movement started on the initiative of the left and militant trade unionists. Ilboong Choi is from Workers' Solidarity, Socialist Worker's sister paper in South Korea. He told a meeting in London this week, “The movement grew incredibly fast. On 3 December 2.3 million people joined demonstrations across the country.

“Organised workers in the KCTU union federation played an important role by attending protests and holding a one-day general strike.”

Park’s removal is a great victory, and an expression of workers’ power. There will now be a presidential election, probably on 9 May.

Park could face criminal charges.

The mainstream parties will focus all their attention on this. But the left is arguing to keep up protests in the workplaces and the streets. It wants to fight to scrap labour “reforms”, demand better wages and conditions, oppose the US missile defence system and defend education—as well as demand political change.

Workers' Solidarity said, “The movement should be maintained after the impeachment. We must get rid of Park’s policies as well as Park. Workers should take advantage of these political opportunities to struggle.”

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