South Korean President Park Geun-hye Removed From Office
The Korean culture ministry is pushing forth a new law to prevent censorship in the arts in light of a blacklisting scandal that led to Park's impeachment.
The South Korean Constitutional Court voted unanimously to uphold the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye on Friday, ending a monthslong political scandal that took the nation by storm.
This marks the first time a democratically elected leader was removed from office, even though every single South Korean president has been disgraced by corruption scandals since the Asian country's transition to democracy in the 1980s.
The 65-year-old, whose term as the 11th president of South Korea had been due to end in February 2018, was impeached by the local parliament on Dec. 9 on multiple corruption charges, including allowing a close friend, Choi Soon-sil, to meddle in state affairs and colluding with her to extort money from big businesses such as Samsung. The scandal has led to the arrest of Samsung's vice chairman and de facto leader Jay Y. Lee (aka. Lee Jae-yong). Millions of anti-Park protestors took to the streets in massive weekly demonstrations since late October — leading to a drastic decline in cinema admissions — as Park's approval ratings fell to a historic low of 5 percent.
Also central to the controversy was Park's handling of a tragic 2014 ferry sinking that killed more than 300 as well as her connection to a blacklisting scandal, where it was revealed that the presidential office banned over 9,000 artists, including the likes of Oldboy director Park Chan-wook, from state-supported funding programs.
In light of the blacklisting fiasco, which resulted in the arrest of Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun and other key political figures, the culture ministry announced on Thursday that it would push forth a new law to prevent such a thing from happening again.
The new law is designed to guarantee artists freedom of expression and to protect them from political pressure and censorship. The ministry has also pledged 8.5 billion won (about $7.3 million) to support art projects that were stopped due to the blacklisting. Authorities are also planning to allow artists to elect the heads of state-supported arts organizations such as the Korean Film Council. Such positions had been designated by the ministry.
Meanwhile, an election to choose Park's successor must be held within 60 days and onlookers expect it to fall on May 9.