South Korea's president thrown out of office

President Park Geun-hye's impeachment was upheld by South Korea's Constitutional Court at 11:23 a.m. Seoul time, Friday, formally removing Park from the presidency. She could now see prosecutors go after her for allegedly using her office to engage in bribery and extortion in partnership with close friend Choi Soon-sil.

Surveys before the latest ruling showed that 70 to 80 per cent of South Koreans wanted the court to approve Park's impeachment.

Ms Choi is also in detention, after being accused of using her close ties with Ms Park to force firms to "donate" nearly $70m to her non-profit organisations, which she allegedly used for personal gain.

"In the end, the president's unconstitutional and law-breaking activities have betrayed the people's trust and also have been serious activities that can never be tolerated in the context of protecting the Constitution", she said. Park has maintained her innocence throughout.

The constitutional court had six months after that National Assembly vote to decide whether Park should stay or go.

2012: Park wins her party's primary to become presidential candidate and defeats liberal candidate Moon Jae-in.

Subsequent to the verdict, an official with South Korea's unification ministry was quoted as saying: "Despite the decision, the ministry plans to unwaveringly seek the country's policy on North Korea and unification". The election day is highly likely to be set on May 9 as there are several public holidays in the first week of May including Buddha's Birthday on May 3 and Children's Day on May 5. Additionally, Park was accused of allowing Choi an undue influence in state affairs.

But the judges dismissed some charges, including accusations Ms Park had infringed on freedom of the press by creating a media blacklist of cultural figures, and criticism of her response during the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster.

Nov 29, 2016: In her third televised apology, Park asks parliament to decide how and when she could give up power over the scandal.

Political instability is gripping Seoul as the South Korean president is removed from office.

Lee denied any wrongdoing.

Park has also been accused of supporting two foundations controlled by Choi for her friend's "pursuit of personal interests" and Park's unconstitutional and law-breaking activities were continually carried out while she was in office, the verdict said. Prosecutors have indicted about 40 people so far, including Samsung Electronics Co. heir-apparent Jay Y. Lee.

  • Joe Gonzales