Ousted South Korean leader arrives back home, expresses defiance
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Sunday expressed defiance toward the corruption allegations against her as she vacated the presidential palace and returned to her home two days after the Constitutional Court removed her from office.
In her first public comments since the court’s ruling, Park said in statement, “Although it will take time, I believe the truth will certainly come out.”
Park will likely face a direct investigation soon by prosecutors who already consider her a criminal suspect over suspicions that she colluded with a confidante to extort money and favors from companies and allowed the friend to secretly interfere with state affairs.
Upon her return home, Park was greeted by hundreds of supporters who thunderously chanted her name and waved the South Korean flag as her bodyguard-flanked black sedan slowly rolled into a path near the house. Park smiled and waved from inside the car and then got out and exchanged brief words with members of her party before going inside the house.
In her statement, which was read to reporters by Min Kyungwook, a lawmaker from her political party and also her former spokesman, Park expressed gratitude to her supporters and apologized for “failing to fulfill my duty as president.”
Prior to Sunday, she earlier had apologized for putting trust in her jailed friend, Choi Soon-sil, but strongly denied any legal wrongdoing.
The Constitutional Court formally removed Park from office on Friday, upholding an impeachment motion filed by lawmakers in December, which followed weeks of massive protests by millions of people calling for her ouster.
The ruling ended a power struggle that had consumed the nation for months and marked a stunning downfall for Park, who convincingly defeated her liberal opponent in 2012 with overwhelming support from older South Koreans, who remembered her dictator father as a hero.
Park no longer has immunity from prosecution and may face criminal charges including extortion, bribery and abuse of power.
Hundreds of Park’s supporters stood near her private home for hours on Sunday before she vacated the Blue House. They waved the South Korean flag and photos of Park and her late father, Park Chung-hee, singing the national anthem and shouting “Nullify impeachment!”
Workers were earlier seen unloading a television, washing machine, bed and other household items from trucks and carrying them into Park’s house.
South Korea now has to elect a new president by early May. Opinion polls show liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost to Park in 2012, as the favorite to become the country’s next leader.