If the court upholds the impeachment, a presidential election will be held in 60 days. Park is implicated in the country’s biggest corruption scandal and charged for meddling in the democratic process in South Korea for decades. With her father’s death in 1994, at the age of 82, Choi Soon-sil succeeded him as the church leader and spiritual mentor to Park, while the former first daughter became a political figure in and of herself.
Park’s removal would allow South Korean policy makers – including acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn – to focus more on a slowing economy, escalating tensions with North Korea and economic retaliation from China over the the Thaad missile-defense system.
While Park’s five-year term was supposed to end in February 2018, massive protests in South Korea led to demands for the president’s resignation. In 2004, Roh Moo-hyun had been impeached for violating election laws, but the motion was overturned later by the Constitutional Court.
“At least, Washington and Beijing will now be able to start a relationship with the South Korean government they know what to expect from”.
The 65-year-old must now await her legal fate as the most unpopular South Korean leader since the country became a democracy in the late 1980s.
Park was also accused, during the reading of the Constitutional Court’s verdict, of having covered up Choi’s involvement in state affairs and denied allegations regarding Choi and criticized those who raised such allegations.
Investors have remained thick-skinned through South Korea’s first presidential impeachment, North Korea’s firing of four missiles and Kim Jong Nam’s assassination. Liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost to Park in the 2012 election, now enjoys a comfortable lead in opinion surveys.
The court’s decision strips Park of her immunity from criminal prosecution, which will force her to undergo interrogation by prosecutors over her alleged crimes.
Two people died, including one who was hit on the head by a speaker falling from a vehicle roof, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
In a written statement on Monday, Ms Park against said she was innocent of the charges but had “belated regret, that I should have been more cautious with my trust in her [Ms Choi]”.
The court will begin a hearing to deliver its ruling at 11 a.m.
Up to $50 million from Samsung was allegedly paid into entities overseen by Choi in return for help cementing Lee’s control of Samsung.
He and Samsung have denied wrongdoing.