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South Korea’s President May Carry On The Grand Presidential Tradition Of Leaving In Disgrace

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

If South Korea’s president steps down in disgrace, she will carry on the country’s most notable presidential tradition.

Hundreds of thousands of people called for South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s resignation at a protest Saturday. The president, whose approval rating is at an all-time low, is accused of influence-peddling and collusion with close friend and civilian confidante Choi Soon-sil, who allegedly stole millions of dollars and was indicted Sunday on charges of abuse of authority, coercion, attempted coercion, and attempted fraud. Opposition leaders are reportedly preparing to push for Park’s impeachment.

Given her current situation, Park fits in well with her predecessors, reports the Associated Press.

South Korea’s first president Syngman Rhee (1948-1960) was forced to flee the country amidst massive student protests criticizing him for authoritarianism, corruption, nepotism, and the manipulation of the domestic voting situation.

Father of the current president, Major General Park Chung-hee (1961-1979), who ended civilian rule, was accused of arresting and torturing political dissidents and was assassinated by his spy chief.

Major General Chun Doo-hwan (1980-1988) seized power from the acting president through a military coup; however, he was forced to flee to the mountains and hide in a Buddhist temple as people demanded that he be punished for corruption and human rights violations.

Roh Tae-woo (1988-1993) took over after Chun, who personally selected Roh to succeed him. Both men were arrested in 1995 on charges of embezzling, treason, and the murder of hundreds of pro-democracy protesters. For their various crimes, Chun was executed, and Roh was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.

Kim Yong-sam (1993-1998) ruined the country’s economy and left with an abysmal approval rating. His son was arrested and put in prison for corruption.

Kim Dae-jung (1998-2003), who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for the 2000 inter-Korea summit, left office accused of corruption and making questionable payments to North Korea prior to the summit.

Roh Moo-hyun (2003-2008) committed suicide after leaving office. He and his family were accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes.

Lee Myung-bak (2008-2013) ran on an anti-corruption platform, but during his term, his son and his brother got caught up in serious corruption scandals. One of his other brothers was arrested for bribery.

Park has a 5 percent approval rating, with 90 percent of the country calling for her to resign.

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