Top presidential aides to South Korea's president Park Geunh-hye have resigned, including her chief of staff according to the presidential office.
The resignations come just as Park is attempting to fend off allegations of influence peddling that involve her old friend Choi Soon-Sil. Park returned home from Germany to face allegations that she allowed Choi to use their friendship to improperly influence her and for personal benefit. Jeong Yeon-guk, spokesperson for the presidential office announced three aides had stepped down. Park has acknowledged that she provided Choi with drafts of her speeches for editing. However, there is also speculation that Choi was involved in decisions on personnel and also used ties with Park to appropriate funds for non-profit organizations.
Harry Fawcett of Al Jazeera reported from Seoul about the aides who resigned:".. "that these appointments may have been incluenced by Choi, and one of them is under investigation for being the means in conveying important government documents - with national security implications - to this person who has no government position or security clearance. That is the essence of why there is so much anger and disbelief, that someone totally unelected can have so much influence over the state of affairs." Thousands of South Koreans took to the streets of Seoul on Saturday evening demanding that Park step down. Many held candles, and there were signs saying "Who's the real president?" Police estimated the crowd, who held a candlelight vigil by City Hall was about 9.000 people. There are more demonstrations planned according to Fawcett.
At the protest, Jae-myung Lee of the opposition Minjoo Party who is also mayor of the city of Seongnam said that Park had lost her authority as president and had showed she did not have the qualities necessary to rule. Even Park's ruling party has considered calling for a national unity government that would in effect sideline Park. Fawcett claimed that just getting rid of a few aides would not quell the protests. On Saturday, prosecutors had widened their investigation by searching homes of presidential officials who they suspect had interacted with Choi providing him with office files from the presidential office.
President Park made a public apology on TV back on October 25th:In it, Park admitted to sharing state documents with Choi Soon-sil, who gave "her personal opinion" on Park's speeches before the presidential election in 2012. Park also said Choi looked at "some documents" for a certain period of time after Park took office, but didn't specify what they were. "I am shocked and my heart is breaking for causing public concern," Park said in the live telecast. "I've done so (shared the documents) out of pure heart so that I could carefully review (the documents)".The apology appears to have only added fuel to the protests.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.