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S Korea deploys 20K police forces for huge rally against president

5 November 2016 10:05

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Thousands of South Korean police have been deployed in the capital Seoul ahead of a 40,000-strong protest rally demanding the ouster of embattled President Park Geun-Hye over a corruption scandal.

The Saturday rally comes despite Park’s tearful apology to the nation in a televised speech on Friday consenting to the launch of a formal corruption investigation against her and vowing to cooperate with investigators.

According to the report, 20,000 police officers have been deployed to confront the protesters intending to march through the streets of central Seoul toward the presidential Blue House as authorities have banned the move, citing traffic congestion.


Protesters hold placards reading “Park Guen-Hye resign!” as they stand in Gwanghwamun square in central Seoul on November 3, 2016 (Photo by AFP)

 

During her nationally broadcast television address to the nation, Park conceded that the scandal involving her long-time confidante Choi Soon-Sil was “all my fault,” but rejected reports that linked her and Choi to a religious cult.

The corruption probe is reportedly focused on allegations that the 60-year-old Choi manipulated her close ties with the South Korean president to persuade local business institutions into donating large sums to doubtful non-profit foundations that she then used for personal gains.

Choi, meanwhile, was formally detained on Thursday on charges of fraud and abuse of power, though public anger has mainly focused on reports that she intervened in governmental affairs and enjoyed access to confidential documents, despite lacking any official position or security clearance.


Protesters wearing masks of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (bottom) and her confidante Choi Soon-Sil (top) perform before a candle-lit rally in central Seoul on October 29, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

 

Moreover, South Korean news outlets have further portrayed Choi, whose late father was a shadowy religious leader and a key mentor to Park, as a Rasputin-like figure who wielded a harmful influence over President Park.

While Park is not likely to quit the presidency, local analysts suggest that she will limp along to conclude her current term in office with her authority gravely weakened at a time of declining economic growth, rising unemployment and continuing military tensions with rival North Korea.

Meanwhile, the country’s main opposition Democratic Party reacted to Park’s televised address by insisting that her changes had been cosmetic, further vowing to wage a campaign for her ouster.

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