Choi Soon-sil Scandal: South Korean President Park Geun-hye Willing to Step Down
South Korean President Park Geun-hye has announced she has asked parliament to help her find a way to step down.
Park Geun-hye faced growing calls to resign amid an investigation into whether she allowed close friend Choi Soon-sil to influence political decisions for personal gain.
The president said she would “leave to parliament everything about my future including shortening of my term”, but did not want to leave a power vacuum.
Parliament was due to discuss on December 2 whether President Park Geun-hye should face impeachment.
Opposition parties have said Park Geun-hye should step down “honorably” before it reached that point.
Park Geun-hye has apologized twice on national TV before, and has said she is “heartbroken” by the political crisis around her, but has refused to resign.
In November 29 TV address, her third since reports of the scandal began, Park Geun-hye said she would resign “once lawmakers come up with measures to transfer power in a way that minimizes any power vacuum and chaos in governance”.
A spokesman for the opposition Democratic Party, Youn Kwan-suk, said the speech was a “trick” which “lacked reflection”.
“What people want is her immediate resignation, not dragging out and dodging the responsibility to the parliament,” he told the Yonhap news agency.
The scandal stems from Park Geun-hye’s relationship with Choi Soon-sil.
Choi Soon-sil is accused of trying to extort huge sums of money from South Korean companies.
She is also suspected of using her friendship with Park Geun-hye to solicit business donations for a non-profit fund she controlled.
Choi Soon-sil is in police detention, facing a string of charges.
The allegations have reached across South Korean politics and industry. Two of Park Geun-hye’s aides have also been charged along with a pop music producer.
The offices of the national pension fund have been raided as have several major Korean companies including Lotte and Samsung.
Investigators believe Park Geun-hye had a “considerable” role in the alleged corruption, but the president’s representatives have said the accusations are a “fantasy”.
In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans have joined huge street protests across the country demanding that Park Geun-hye leave office.