South Korean President Park offers to resign
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that she would resign according to a schedule and process set by parliament, which has been considering whether to start impeachment proceedings.
"I will step down from the presidency, following the schedule and process made by the National Assembly," said Park in a televised speech. "I will let the assembly to decide my resignation including cutting my term."
Park's five-year term is set to expire next year. She faces investigation from the prosecution for allegedly pressuring local conglomerates to pay around $66 million to two foundations run by longtime friend Choi Soon-sil. Park is also alleged to have shared confidential state documents with Choi though she held no official role or security clearance. Choi, the former leader of a shamanistic-Christian cult founded by her late father, is also said to have meddled in policy on North Korea and personnel appointments.
Park denied that she profited from this, insisting she believed that the projects were in the public interest. "I never pursued my own interest at any moment," said the daughter of former president Park Chung-hee, a military strongman who governed the country for almost two decades.
Opposition parties downplayed her latest announcement, describing it as a trick to forestall the impeachment process. They said they would continue to push ahead.
Hundreds of thousands of citizens have rallied against Park each Saturday in downtown Seoul and other cities for the past five weeks, demanding her resignation. Park's approval rating dipped to a new all-time low of 4% last week, according to a Gallup Korea poll. Under the constitution, a new election should be held within 60 days if the president resigns.
Choi and her father appeared to have assumed the role of spiritual advisers to an emotionally vulnerable Park Geun-hyue in the 1970s after first her mother and then her father were assassinated.