South Korea’s victory: can it happen in US?

Weeks of relentless and massive street protests in South Korea finally succeeded in bringing about the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye Dec. 9 as the National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to charge her with corruption and mishandling of state affairs. The country's Constitutional Court has 180 days to uphold or invalidate the impeachment. Protesters pledge they will continue to press for President Park to step down, which would automatically spark new elections. The protests have been ongoing since October, repeatedly mobilizing hundreds of thousands across the country. On Dec. 4, up to 1.7 million filled the streets of downtown Seoul, within sight of the Blue House presidential residence. There have been scattered street clashes, but the tone of the protests is overwhelmingly peaceful, even joyous. University professors have played a leading role. The protests coincided with rolling strikes by public-sector workers over labor demands, with hospitals and transport heavily affected. The impeachment is a victory for transparency; Park is accused of conniving with a crony for illicit enrichment through abuse of government power. (Korea Policy Institute, Dec. 10; WP, Dec. 8; Korea Policy Institute, Nov. 30; Korea Times, Nov. 27)

Contrast the situation here in the United States. In the initial shock after Donald Trump's election Nov. 7, there were around two weeks of near-daily protests in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities. Then it began to peter out, and the much-dreaded "normalization" started to take hold. Can we regain the momentum—and dare to aspire to the same degree of commitment as demonstrated by the Koreans? That—demonstrably—is what it takes to get the goods.

The Electoral College will vote on Dec. 19. After that we will have a month until the inauguration. Can we use this critical window to do what needs to be done to prevent an actual fascist from taking office?

  1. Former South Korea president sentenced to 25 years

    Former South Korean president Park Geun-Hye was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Aug. 24 by the Seoul High Court in connection with corruption charges and bribes from companies such as Samsung.

    This ruling extends the former president’s prison sentence by an additional year and increases Park’s fines by 2 billion won for a total of 20 billion won. The court increased the sentence after South Korean prosecutors appealed Park’s previous sentence.

    In July Park received an additional eight-year sentence for election interference and improper use of state funds, which is set begin after park serves her original sentence for corruption. Park’s original 24-year corruption sentence was handed down in April by the Seoul Central District Court after she was convicted of colluding with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to receive bribes from multiple South Korean corporations. (Jurist)