South Korea What next after presidential impeachment?

Four months after the country's legislature voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye, a South Korean court has formally removed her from office, setting the stage for a period of uncertainty across Northeast Asia.

Park's lawyer disparaged the verdict as coming from a "kangaroo court".

Following the verdict Park's spokesman said she would not leave the presidential Blue House residence today.

South Korea president Park Geun-hye was impeached this week.

Seoul police anticipated violence between the two groups, particularly after three protesters were killed in clashes since the decision was announced. A third man, aged 74, had a heart attack and died on Saturday, a hospital said.

When Park was ejected from office after a parliamentary vote on December 9, she had an approval rating of just five per cent and her ouster was preceeded by massive demonstrations. "[Park's] downfall is expected to shift South Korean politics to the opposition, whose leaders want more engagement with North Korea and are wary of a major confrontation in the region", according to the Times.

South Korea's National Election Commission (NEC) has opened registration of presidential candidates earlier in the day.

An investigation into the political scandal that brought Park Geun-hye down has returned 30 indictments, including the head of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn becomes acting president.

Prosecutors have accused Park of colluding with Choi to pressure 16 companies to donate a total of 77.4 billion won ($66.7 million) for the launch of two foundations controlled by Choi. It was an unusually quick response from the rogue nation, which typically waits days to report worldwide news, according to Reuters.

Ms Park was found to have broken the law by allowing her friend Choi Soon-Sil to meddle in state affairs, and breached rules on public servants' activities.

Park did not appear in court and did not make any comment after the ruling.

Prosecutors also believe Park had one of her presidential aides convey dozens of documents with state secrets to Choi. They will also work with the help improve relations with China during an especially tense time for Asia.

Still, the ruling on Friday offers a sign of how far South Korea's young democracy has evolved since it was first established in the late 1980s.

She is also accused of soliciting bribes from the head of the Samsung Group for government favours including the backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015 that was seen to support the succession of control over the country's largest "chaebol" conglomerate.

  • Rogelio Becker