Protests in Seoul as Park's impeachment decision nears

Indo Asian News Service

Seoul, March 4 (IANS) Protesters for and against the embattled South Korean President took to the streets of Seoul on Saturday as the anticipated Constitutional Court's verdict on whether to approve Park Geun-hye's impeachment nears.

Kept apart by large police barriers, thousands of detractors and sympathisers of Park, who is at the centre of the so-called "Korean Rasputin" corruption scandal, took to the streets, with the court's decision only a week away.

An estimated 16,000 police officers were deployed to keep the peace between the opposing factions, Efe news reported.

Detractors gathered for the "March for a future without Park", whilst Park's supporters wore national flags and sang the national anthem as well as military songs associated with Park's father, who ruled the country from 1961 to 1979.

"We came to defend our President and our country from North Korea. If we lose the battle against the others, we will be in a very dangerous situation," a supporter of Park told Efe, who said he was convinced that the election of a liberal President would lead the country to a "disastrous" unification attempt with the North.

The South Korean Parliament on December 9 approved a decision to impeach Park, whom the state attorney considers an accomplice in the corruption case of Choi Soon-sil, known as the "South Korean Rasputin" due to her close relationship with the President.

Choi, 60, is accused of taking advantage of her close friendship with Park to interfere in state affairs, despite not holding public office, and of conspiring to extort companies and force them to donate large sums of money to various foundations to appropriate part of the funds.