S. Koreans kick off 6th Saturday rally after president’s national address over scandal

South Koreans kicked off the sixth weekend rally on Saturday after President Park Geun-hye issued her third address to the nation earlier this week over a scandal involving herself and her longtime confidante.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered around the Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, just a km away from the presidential Blue House where Park's office and residence are located.

The official function was organized for the sixth straight Saturdays by an association to force the scandal-hit president from office, which is composed of around 1,500 civic groups.

The main roads and streets were transformed into a strip of "grand square," which was stretched between the Gwanghwamun Square and the Seoul Plaza in front of the Seoul City Hall.

Before the official event, a crocodile of some 400,000 protesters marched up to 100 meters from the presidential office for about two hours as a Seoul court allowed it. Last Saturday, the march was restricted to 200 meters.

They surrounded Park's office in three sides, forming a so-called "human chain."

People shouted for the president's immediate departure from office, wanting their infuriated yells to reach the leader.

A lights-out event is to be held for a minute. It is aimed to encourage people watching the rallies on TV to indirectly participate in the outside protest by turning off lights in offices or apartments.

People were angered further after Park's national address earlier this week. Park admitted to no wrongdoing, saying she had never pursed personal gains "for a flash" in about four years in office.

Prosecutors branded Park as a criminal accomplice to Choi Soon-sil, Park's decades-long friend who was charged with multiple counts including abuse of power and extortion.

The ball of decision on Park's fate was thrown in parliamentary court as the president demanded a legal procedure and schedule for her orderly departure.

A faction of the ruling party, which is not loyal to Park, had agreed to impeach Park, but its position changed after her third public speech.

Most of the anti-Park faction members reportedly said if Park accepts a Saenuri-proposed timeline of resigning by next April and holding a presidential election two months later, they will not vote on the impeachment motion.

Opposition and independent lawmakers handed in the bill to impeach Park early Saturday, heralding a vote on it next Friday. To overcome the two-thirds threshold necessary for the passage through the National Assembly, at least 28 Saenuri members must join the impeachment move.

About 20,000 protesters gathered earlier in the day in front of the Saenuri Party headquarters located near the unicameral assembly. They shouted for the party's dissolution and Park's impeachment.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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