Two weeks ago, a president was impeached for the first time in Korean history.
In the five-month process of the impeachment, I was overwhelmed by the information about scandals regarding the president and big political jargon used in the articles. After scrutinizing them, I realized how influential the president’s role is and learned a lot about politics.
Here are some things that led to the impeachment of the first female president of Korea, Park Geun-hye:
The major problem was that she significantly lacked communication with the citizens and was very opaque in terms of running the country and making policies.
Koreans were beyond mad when a news channel reported that the president’s close friend, Choi Soon-sil, had great influence in crucial political decisions without any official government title. For instance, she edited some of the president’s most crucial speeches and pressured the president to appoint certain people to a high government position. Moreover, in order to sponsor her own daughter who was a horseback rider, she pushed the president to extort a huge amount of money from big businesses illegally.
The first article of the first chapter of Constitution of Korea says, “The Republic of Korea shall be a democratic republic,” and continues, “The sovereignty of the Republic of Korea shall reside in the people, and all state authority shall emanate from the people.” Clearly, Park has violated these most basic rules, so of course, people were furious. Thousands of people came to the boulevard in Seoul with candles to express their anger. Even elementary school students joined the candlelight rally. After a long period of anticipation, the Constitutional court officially removed Park from the office. Currently, Korea is preparing for an election in May.
The impeachment was highly symbolic because it meant that the voice of citizens was finally heard.
One of the most liked comments on the article about her impeachment said: “Justice is alive”. I stopped and pondered over those words. I could not agree more. Despite the scandals, people fought for justice and the winners were the people in the end. The candlelight rallies that have been happening every Saturday for months really did make a change.
Witnessing such a historical moment in Korea, I gained lots of knowledge about politics. Even though I was still not eligible to vote, I was mad when it became evident that the voice of citizens was ignored. That meant my opinions would be ignored. Then, I thought, the only way for me to make change is to be more knowledgeable about politics so that opinions of my generation are acknowledged, and this kind of incident never happens again. I was born and raised in Korea, but I knew very little about Korean politics, if anything, before this incident. Frankly, I was not interested in politics in general. Sometimes, I tried to read some articles and understand what was happening, but it never worked out well. News articles about politics were always unappealing to me because of all the political jargon that I had no clue about. I tried to force myself to read more, but I let go and thought, “Oh well, I guess politics are only for adults. I’ll stay out of it until I get to vote.” When I came to the States, I was afraid that people would ask me questions about Korean politics and I would not be able to answer them. Although I still have a lot to learn, I can say I am more informed now.
After the impeachment, I became aware of how significant democracy is. The president has a huge responsibility to help South Korea become a politically stabilized nation. Being the president is indeed a very challenging job; the president has to listen to everyone’s opinions and come up with the best compensation so that everyone is satisfied. Of course, it will be impossible to form a policy that every single person in the country will be happy with. But presidents should try their best to meet the demands of the majority. Had Park communicated with the people rather than her friend, the people would have been happier with her. She demonstrated that because the president is elected by the people, the president should always keep up with the citizens and be transparent regarding her policies.This is how democracies work.
Now that Korea has taken a step forward towards becoming a stronger democracy, I am looking forward to positive changes.
It’s all about progress and improvement.
In addition, it is about time for me to get involved in politics. I want my voice and the voice of the rest of the rising generation to be heard. Although the process has been rough, the people have proved that the democracy is alive, and the whole incident will have a positive effect on Korea in the long run.