Yesterday was a monumental day for all South Koreans: Park Geun-hye, whose approval rating fell below 5 percent in the last few months, was officially impeached by the constitutional court over bribery and corruption charges directly involving Samsung.
You might have heard a thing or two about Park, South Korea’s now former president. What started out as a dispute over a dog turned into a serious investigation following the discovery of a Samsung tablet by JTBC journalists, which was used by Park’s childhood friend and confidante Choi Soon-sil to interfere with national security matters.
The National Assembly of Korea voted back in December to go ahead with the impeachment process, and after 92 days of protests and uncertainty, the verdict is out: out of thirteen accusations, the court dismissed some on the grounds of insufficient evidence but ultimately upheld the National Assembly’s decision unanimously on bribery and corruption charges.
And at the center of it all is Samsung and the recently-arrested heir Lee Jae-yong. Essentially, the court stated that Park abused her power to secure over $70 million from companies like Samsung in order to establish and run and profit from private enterprises under her confidante Choi’s leadership. It added that this was a betrayal of “the trust of the people… [and] cannot be tolerated for the sake of protecting the Constitution.”
If you remember, Lee was arrested earlier last month for bribing Park and Choi – including giving a $2-million-horse to Choi’s daughter – and in return was helped by Park in the merging of two Samsung affiliates. Although his fate remains unclear, now that Park is officially found guilty over the same bribery charges for which he was arrested, things aren’t looking too bright for him.
Although his fate remains unclear, now that Park is officially found guilty over the same bribery charges for which he was arrested, things aren’t looking too bright for him.
Lee is currently vice-chairman of Samsung electronics but unofficially considered de facto boss of Samsung Group, the largest chaebol in South Korea. His trial is expected to go on for at least a few months, and unlike previous times when he was convicted, there won’t be a president to pardon him.