A “people’s victory” as 234 lawmakers vote to impeach President Park

Posted on : 2016-12-09 18:47 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Impeachment will still need to pass Constitutional Court review, as opposition parties seek to bring in new era of democracy
National Assembly speaker Chung Se-kyun declares the passage of the motion to impeach President Park Geun-hye
National Assembly speaker Chung Se-kyun declares the passage of the motion to impeach President Park Geun-hye

The people have won. The Park Geun-hye’s presidential powers have been suspended, and the Republic of Korea has embarked on the long journey toward becoming a complete democratic republic once again.

At 4:10 pm on Dec. 9, the motion for Park’s impeachment passed the National Assembly. Lawmakers could not reject the stern command of the sovereign people to punish the anti-constitutional forces in accordance with the constitution. 299 of 300 lawmakers participated in the vote on the motion of impeachment, which was conducted with secret ballots during the main session of the National Assembly. The result was 234 to 56 in favor of impeachment (with 2 lawmakers abstaining and 7 ballots invalidated), and support for the motion far exceeded the two-thirds majority of sitting lawmakers (200) required to pass it. The only lawmaker who was not present for the vote was Rep. Choi Gyeong-hwan of the Saenuri Party.

 staff photographer)
staff photographer)

After the vote, Rep. Kwon Seong-dong, chair of the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee, submitted the original of the motion for impeachment to the Constitutional Court. At the same time, a copy of the motion was delivered to the Blue House, at which point Park’s presidential powers were suspended and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn assumed those powers in her place as acting president.

“This is an unfortunate event in the history of our constitutional government, but it is time for the ruling and opposition parties to return to the stage of cooperative government and to put their heads together,” said Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Chung Jin-suk after the motion passed.

“The National Assembly will take the lead in seeking ways to resolve the chaos in the government by quickly announcing measures for stability and public livelihood,” said Rep. Woo Sang-ho, floor leader of the Minjoo Party.

“We must now bring the paradigm of Rhee Syng-man (1948-1960) and Park Chung-hee (1961-79) to an end and bring a new style of leadership to the Republic of Korea,” said Park Jie-won, floor leader for the People’s Party.

Citizens gathered in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Dec. 9 jubilate as lawmakers vote on President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment. (by Kim Bong-kyu
Citizens gathered in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Dec. 9 jubilate as lawmakers vote on President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment. (by Kim Bong-kyu

Civic groups firmly believe that passing the motion for impeachment is nothing more than conquering a single peak on a long trek. They believe that the person responsible for the regressive closed-door style of governance and the outmoded vested interests who depend upon her will not go down without a fight.

They are also concerned that the will of the people could be betrayed at any time -- during the Constitutional Court’s review of the motion for impeachment, during the discussions over restoring the government to its normal functions that are scheduled to take place afterward or during the realignment of various political groups that will occur before the presidential election.

“This is the beginning, this is really the beginning,” said Yu Gyeong-geun, who lost his daughter in the sinking of the Sewol ferry, as he watched the vote in the main chamber of the National Assembly. Yu hopes that citizens will get involved and keep a close watch on developments to ensure that the “candlelight revolution” achieves its goals.

By Seok Jin-hwan, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

Related stories