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South Korea’s President ‘Willing To Resign,’ But It’s Not That Simple

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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South Korea’s president says that she is willing to resign rather than face impeachment over her alleged involvement in a serious scandal.

“I am giving up everything now,” President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday during a five-minute televised address, her third public apology since news of an influence-peddling scandal broke in October.

Accused of ceding state power to confidante Choi Soon-sil, who is suspected of using her ties to the president to steal millions of dollars, Park faces a record-low approval rating of 4 percent. Protests have been held in Seoul every weekend for the past five weeks, with more than one million people turning out for the most recent rally.

“I will leave to parliament everything about my future including shortening of my term,” Park explained in her speech on TV. “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 minimize political unrest and vacuum after ruling and opposition parties’ discussion.”

Opposition parties, which initially planned to start impeachment proceedings this week, saw through Park’s proposal and called it an attempt to paralyze the system.

Park did not provide any specific details on when she would resign, nor did she admit any wrongdoing.

“She is handing the ball to parliament when she could simply step down,” Park Kwang-on, a Democratic Party lawmaker, explained to Reuters reporters. “She is asking 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.”

“This is nothing but a sly trick to avoid impeachment,” Youn Kwan-suk, a Democratic Party spokesman, told the New York Times, “What the people wanted was her immediate resignation.”

Before her speech, a vote to impeach the president was expected to be held Friday, but the date has been pushed back to Dec. 9.

Some members of Park’s leading Saenuri Party are trying to give Park the opportunity to make an “honorable retreat” and leave with dignity, but the president has yet to demonstrate a sincere willingness to step down and give up her power as president.

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