Rep. Kweon Seong-dong of the Saenuri Party, chief of the National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee, second from left, hands in the impeachment resolution to the Constitutional Court in central Seoul, Friday evening. / Yonhap
By Jun Ji-hye
President Park Geun-hye indicated after being impeached by the National Assembly, Friday, that she will not step down until the Constitutional Court delivers its ruling.
Just before she was suspended from office, she appointed lawyer Cho Dae-hwan as new senior secretary for civil affairs, replacing Choi Jai-kyeong, who had previously offered to resign.
The move shows Park has no intention of resigning, and instead is preparing for the legal battle at the Constitutional Court.
This position was in line with one made Tuesday when she met with the ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Rep. Lee Jung-hyun and floor leader Rep. Chung Jin-suk.
The opposition parties had called on her to step down immediately once the impeachment motion was approved, saying that the passage amounts to the public's disapproval of her staying in power.
The 300-member Assembly passed the impeachment motion by a vote of 234 to 56 with two abstentions and seven nullified ballots.
During a meeting with ministers held soon after the impeachment vote, the embattled leader said she "seriously" accepted citizens' voices and hoped for an end to national confusion sparked by the corruption and influence-peddling scandal involving herself and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.
"From now on, I will calmly respond to an impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court and an independent counsel investigation in accordance with the procedures laid out in the Constitution and the related laws," Park said.
Parliamentary approval of the motion suspended the President from performing her duties. She is completely stripped of power if the top court concurs that she committed a crime that makes her unfit to serve, after up to six months of deliberations. Until then, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will be acting head of state.
Pointing to security and economic challenges facing the country, Park stressed the need for the ministers to make concerted efforts to stabilize state affairs.
"I hope that with the prime minister as acting president playing a central role, each minister will do his or her utmost to minimize any government vacuum in the economic and security realms by staying united with extraordinary determination," she said.
Park then renewed her apology over the high-profile political scandal, saying that she is sorry about causing confusion and concern among the public.
The President has been mired in the scandal in which she is alleged to have allowed Choi, with no government position and security clearance, to gain unlawful access to advance drafts of presidential documents, some of which were classified as confidential.
Park is also suspected of playing a role in pressuring local conglomerates into donating large sums of money to two nonprofit foundations controlled by Choi, according to the prosecution.
Cheong Wa Dae has denied all the allegations, saying Park would establish her "innocence" through the independent counsel probe that is expected to be launched soon.
Currently, a parliamentary investigation is being separately conducted into the scandal.