Korean President Ready to Resign
Photo by Lee Jin-man/AP/REX/Shutterstock

South Korea’s under-siege president Park Geun-hye says she has asked parliament to help her find a way of stepping down honorably.

Park said that she will resign if the National Assembly can find a practical means for a smooth handover of power. Parliament is currently set to discuss her possible impeachment on Friday.

Her tentative offer to resign would avoid the pain and shame of her being forced out of office. Her current term has 13 months to run.

She has been embroiled in a series of controversies and her approval rating dropped to single figures. The latest scandal revealed her to have relied too heavily on a personal friend Choi Soon-sil who may have influenced political decisions for personal gain. Exposure of the links — and Choi’s links to a shamanistic group — has sparked mass protests on the streets of Korea.

Park has presided over a deeply illiberal regime that is widely regarded to have restricted personal and media freedoms.

The media industry also found itself part of the story. In recent weeks members of parliament exposed a blacklist of public figures including film makers Park Chan-wok and Lee Chang-dong who Park’s government deemed as hostile and therefore ineligible for public funding.

Choi and her associate a TV and commercials director Cha Eun-taek were alleged to have influenced a presidential media advisory committee. Through that Choi is said to have exercised influence over the Culture Ministry to push her own vision and to make appointments to government agencies of Cha’s associates.

Allegations have also been made concerning CJ Entertainment, the country’s largest movie studio. The company is alleged to have green lighted patriotic movies “Ode to my Father” and “Operation Chromite,” both big commercial hits, in response to government pressure. CJ Entertainment’s head Miky Lee is also rumored to have been ousted as a result of direct influence from Park’s office.

An increase in the budget of the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) for its render farm project has also come under suspicion of Choi/Cha influence. It may now be probed by prosecutors.

Similarly, Park’s intolerance of media criticism may have indirectly led to the two year problems of the Busan film festival. The mayor of Busan and a Park ally launched a witch hunt at the festival after its 2014 edition programmed a documentary “Diving Bell” (aka “The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol”) which alleged a government cover-up after the fatal ferry sinking earlier in the year.

 

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