South Korean President Park Geun-hye is engulfed in an influence-peddling scandal that now has her facing an impeachment vote. Park is accused of conspiring with a friend and a former aide, both of whom have been indicted by prosecutors. She allegedly pressured big businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back her policy initiatives. She has denied wrongdoing, but apologized for her carelessness in her ties. Parliament is expected to vote in favor of impeachment, but the Constitutional Court must decide whether to uphold the motion. That process could take up to 180 days. Park said she would wait for the court's ruling, which means that the six-weeks-long political crisis marked by huge rallies is set to continue.

After weeks of massive street protests demanding for the first female president’s removal, the South Korean Parliament has voted to impeach President Park Geun-Hye amid a corruption scandal.

The vote was 234 over 56 in favor of impeachment, which means Park’s fellow Saenuri party also voted against her.

South Korea ProtestersSouth Korea’s prime minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn will take over as temporary President.
Meanwhile, after the results, impeached President Park apologized saying she had “created this national chaos with my carelessness”.

At the center of Ms. Park’s scandal is her relationship with long-time adviser, Choi Soon-sil, who was accused of using her influence to abuse powers and accumulate financial benefits. She is now in custody and facing criminal charges.
Prosecutors say Ms Park had a “considerable” part in the alleged corruption, which she has denied.

Park and Choi Affiliation

The two have been close friends since the 1970s, when Ms. Park took over the responsibility of being the country’s first lady when her mother passed away after the assassination attempt on her father. Choi was the daughter of the country’s military strongman and was a cult leader who later became Ms. Park’s adviser.

It is believed that after Ms. Park was elected in 2013 as South Korea’s President, Ms. Choi, 60 began to use their relationship to push giant companies into donating to two foundations she managed and then appropriated the money for personal purposes.

On Tuesday the giant companies’ leaders were asked by MPs if they made the donations in exchange for political favors.

Ms Park was also criticized for giving Ms Choi inappropriate access to confidential government matters, something which she has frequently apologized for.

Next Steps

The impeachment vote signifies the suspension of Park . The country’s Constitutional Court will now deliberate the impeachment case, and the whole process would take up to 180 days to make the final decision.

If at least six of the court’s nine judges favor the decision, Ms. Park will become the first sitting South Korean president to be ousted in the country’s democratic age and a new presidential election will be conducted within 60 days.

South Korean ParliamentBack in 2004, parliament impeached President Roh Moo-hyun, who was suspended for two months.

However, the court overturned the impeachment decision and restored Mr. Roh.

South Korea’s Interim Leader

The 59-year-old, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, has spent most of his career as a lawmaker. He now takes over the presidency.

Before he served as the prime minister in June 2015, he was first a justice minister.

Serving as a justice minister in 2014, he ruled to ban the Unified Progressive Party, and was accused of holding pro-North Korean beliefs.

Amnesty International, a human rights group castigated the move.