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Public anger directed at politicians failing to remove Park

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have become the target of public anger for their collective failure to cope with a scandal engulfing President Park Geun-hye. 

Above all, lawmakers of the ruling Saenuri Party are being scrutinized for not heeding the public’s demand to impeach the scandal-ridden president. They complain of receiving hundreds of phone calls and text messages from angry voters.

The Saenuri Party on Friday filed a legal complaint against a lawmaker from the main opposition, Rep. Pyo Chang-won of the Democratic Party of Korea, for releasing a list of party lawmakers who he claimed have opposed Park’s impeachment. 

The party claimed Pyo had violated their privacy and interfered with their official duties

While some 2 million people took to the streets across the nation Saturday to demand Park’s immediate resignation, some 3,000 gathered in front of the Saenuri Party headquarters in Yeouido in Seoul.

With citizens’ fury directed at the ruling party, protesters shouted, “Disassemble Saenuri,” and tore a large Saenuri flag. Some participants threw eggs at the windows of the building.

The protesters said that the Saenuri Party’s push for the resignation of the president in April and a presidential election in June was “a strategic survival plan” and claimed that “a suspect Park” should not be allowed to resign “in honor.”

“It is those 28 (Saenuri) lawmakers versus 2 million street protesters and other citizens fighting for the immediate resignation of Park,” said Kim Young-mi, a citizen who participated in Saturday’s rally.

Soon after Pyo’s list was released, an anonymous source uploaded the lawmakers’ phone numbers online. Saenuri members complained about their phones ringing in early hours while others suffered from a bombardment of mocking text messages from angry citizens.

The ruling party suspected a possible link between Pyo and the phone number distributor, and demanded for a thorough probe of the leak.

“The phone numbers were revealed at around the time Rep. Pyo posted the list online. There are possibilities of collusion,” a Saenuri lawmaker said.

Sharing the news article reporting Saenuri’s lawsuit on his Facebook on Sunday, Rep. Pyo said he “welcomed” the ruling party’s move.

“Unlike Park Geun-hye or pro-Park lawmakers, I actually abide by the law. I will (actively) cooperate in the probe,” he wrote, referring to President Park’s previous refusals to the prosecution’s requests for face-to-face questioning.

Pyo said in his previous Facebook and Twitter posts that he would take the blame from the ruling party lawmakers but said their distress is the result of public sentiment.

He added that he would update the list of legislators that disagreed with the impeachment plan, which, he claims has been figured out based on a fair evaluation of news reports and statements the lawmakers have publicly made.
Representatives of three opposition parties hand in the impeachment motion against President Park Geun-hye to the National Assembly secretariat on Saturday. The bill has been signed by the parties’ 171 lawmakers. From right: Reps. Lee Choon-suak of the Democratic Party of Korea, Kim Kwan-young of People’s Party and Lee Jung-mi from Justice Party. (Yonhap)
Representatives of three opposition parties hand in the impeachment motion against President Park Geun-hye to the National Assembly secretariat on Saturday. The bill has been signed by the parties’ 171 lawmakers. From right: Reps. Lee Choon-suak of the Democratic Party of Korea, Kim Kwan-young of People’s Party and Lee Jung-mi from Justice Party. (Yonhap)
The opposition People’s Party’s leader Park Jie-won also faced strong criticism when he came out to participate in the sixth rally in central Seoul Saturday, with some protesters calling the party a “second army of Saenuri Party.”

The opposition party opposed the Democratic Party’s proposal to hold an early vote last Friday to impeach President Park, delaying the official voting a week from the suggested date.

He reportedly received some 20,000 text messages and numerous phone calls from angry citizens who seek to remove President Park from office as soon as possible after he made the statement.

He also made some controversial remarks in a televised interview with a local news program Thursday, saying that over 70 to 80 percent of citizens agree the Constitution should be amended.

Seven out of 10 citizens disagreed with the idea of making a Constitutional revision before the impeachment, according to survey released by one of the nation’s pollster RealMeter Thursday.

Early on Saturday, the three opposition parties submitted a motion to impeach Park for violating the constitutional order. For the motion to pass, at least 28 lawmakers from the ruling Saenuri Party need to vote for it, as it requires a two-thirds majority in the 300-member National Assembly.

Currently, 171 assembly members from outside the Saenuri Party have signed on to support the motion. The motion will officially be placed to vote on Friday.

The ruling party suffers from a split between the conservative leadership loyal to President Park and her dissenters, with the former group arguing for the president to step down voluntarily in April but refusing to vote for impeachment.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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