South Korean president faces impeachment as scandal grows

South Korean prosecutors yesterday said that President Park Geun-Hye colluded with her close confidante in a corruption and influence-peddling scandal that has sparked massive nationwide protests and calls for her impeachment.

Park’s longtime friend, Choi Soon-Sil, was charged yesterday with coercion and abuse of power, as was one of the president’s former aides.

Another presidential aide wascharged with leaking confidentialstate documents.

“The president played a collusive role in a considerable portion of the criminal activities involving the [three] people,” Lee Young-Ryeol, a Seoul prosecutor who is leading a probe into the scandal, said.

Choi, 60, has been accused of using her personal ties to Park to meddle instate affairs and of coercing firms to donate millions to dubious non-profit foundations.

She allegedly then used some of the funds for personal gain. Park faces allegations that she helped Choi extract money from the firms and that she ordered her aides to leak state documents to Choi, who has no security clearance.

Under the constitution, a sitting president cannot be charged with a criminal offence except insurrection or treason.

But she can still be probed by prosecutors and possibly charged after leaving office.

The latest revelations piled pressureon opposition party lawmakersto seek the impeachment of Park and the scandal has sent Park’s approval ratings plunging to 5%.

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