South Koreans from across the country and across generations peacefully took to the streets of the capital Saturday night, calling through songs, shouts and placards for the immediate resignation of their scandal-plagued president, Park Geun-hye.
With as many as one million people on the streets of Seoul, it was South Korea’s largest demonstration in more than a decade — no small feat in a country with a vibrant protest culture — and it increased the pressure on Park over a widening corruption and influence-peddling controversy.
It was the third weekend protest rally since Park's first public apology on Oct. 25 when she admitted she had sought the advice of her friend, Choi Soon-sil.
The Park administration has been plunged into the worst crisis of its turbulent tenure after news emerged that she had been taking advice on everything from North Korea policy to her wardrobe from a lifelong friend with no policy experience and links to a questionable cult.
The woman, Choi Soon-sil, has also been accused of using her relationship with Park to solicit $70 million in donations for foundations from big businesses like Samsung, which she is accused of embezzling instead.
Although South Korea is no stranger to corruption scandals, this one has particularly infuriated large numbers of people, who feel that democracy has been circumvented and wonder if the country was being run by a “shadow president” with no experience.
They are also angry that the institutions of government — from the prosecutors’ office to the South Korean government — not only did not intervene, but seemed to have helped Choi.