A day after former President Park Geun-hye returned home from the presidential residence, over a hundred die-hard supporters launched a special unit to guard her home around the clock.
It consists of some 150 supporters of the expelled leader. They will stage a relay of sit-in protests around the clock for one month near her house in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, said the group.
“From the passage of the parliamentary impeachment motion to the court’s ruling, we condemn the special counsel and media for violating Park’s human rights through demagogy and scheming,” Park Jong-hwa, one of the organizers, said. “We cannot accept the court’s ruling.”
Supporters of former President Park Geun-hye on Monday hold a rally nearby Park’s private house in Samseong-dong, Seoul, protesting against the court‘s decision to uphold the impeachment. (Ock Hyun-ju/The Korea Herald)
As of 6 p.m. Monday, around 80 protestors were still outside Park’s house in Samseong-dong, enthusiastically waving the national flag and accusing the court and media of framing the innocent president. Some 10 protestors said they had stayed there since the expelled leader’s homecoming the previous evening.
About 560 police officers were dispatched to the scene, as the protestors at times engaged in brawls with fellow protestors and passers-by.
“I cannot even tell you how sad I am. I came here to protect my president,” said a 67-year-old protestor, surnamed Kim.
“The most important thing here is truth. I will stand by her until the truth comes out,” he said, referring to Park’s statement made a day earlier.
In a message read by a spokesperson upon her arrival in Samseong-dong, Park said, “It may take time, but I have faith that the truth will come to light eventually.”
Her apparent unwillingness to accept the court’s decision left room for her supporters to carry on their fight against what they called a “biased” and “politically-motivated” ruling, although a vast majority of the public saw it as fair and welcomed it.
Park’s return home Sunday night was met with cheers from an estimated 2,000 tearful supporters and a few pro-Park lawmakers. It was two days after the Constitutional Court said in a historic ruling that Park had impaired the spirit of democracy and the rule of law by abusing her presidential power to help her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil pursue personal gains.
Her residence had its lights turned off at around 1 a.m. Monday and turned on again at around 6:30 a.m. Six newspapers including The Korea Herald were delivered to her home in the morning. Flower bouquets also arrived, with a message reading “I love you. You did a hard job.”
A black car was seen leaving the residence at around 7:30 a.m. only to come back after 10 minutes. Two other cars went into the house. It is not confirmed who were in the cars.
Rep. Cho Won-jin of the conservative Liberty Korea Party paid a visit to Park at around 10 a.m. and left after one hour and 20 minutes.
Four people, including Yoon Jeon-choo, an administrative officer at the Blue House, are reportedly serving the president inside her residence. It remains unknown whether Yoon has quit her position at the presidential office. Security service officers are on duty, staying at a separate complex near Park’s home.
The ousted Park was stripped of all privileges, including the pension and office given to former presidents, with the only exception being security services for up to 10 years.
Former President Park Geun-hye‘s suppporters hold a banner reading “We love you President Park Geun-hye” during a rally in front of her private residence, in southern Seoul, Monday. Ock Hyun-ju/The Korea Herald)
“Her house is too cold and her gas boiler doesn’t even work I heard. … What can we do. … Her house looked very big on TV, but it is too small and is not even as good as mine,” said one 70-something woman wearing glasses and an orange jacket.
Park’s house is worth about 2.5 billion won ($2.18 million) and is located in one of the wealthiest districts in the country.
According to the special counsel who investigated the scandal involving Park, the house was purchased by her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil and her mother in 1990. Park is accused of colluding with Choi to extort donations from local firms for Choi-controlled nonprofit foundations.
A female protestor shouted, “Come down, you trash!” at cameramen on the rooftop of a building near Park’s residence. A song with the lyrics “Ah this is our Korea! We will love it forever” blared from a loudspeaker.
A 60-something man was apprehended on charges of obstruction of justice after knocking down a police officer on duty around Park’s residence.
Shortly after the court’s verdict Friday, a pro-Park protest turned violent, leading to the deaths of three protestors. Two died of heart attacks and another after being hit by a fallen object, the police said.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org