Park's party expels her in bid to regain status

SEOUL • Former South Korean president Park Geun Hye's own political party expelled her yesterday as it sought to distance itself from the sprawling corruption scandal that led to her impeachment.

The decision had been taken "for the future of our party and the country", said Mr Hong Joon Pyo, chairman of the Liberty Korea Party, which has already changed its name from the Saenuri banner under which Park was elected.

She was impeached by Parliament last December after months of mass protests, and the Constitutional Court upheld the decision in March, removing her from office.

She went on criminal trial in May.

Park's dismissal dealt a huge blow to her party, with some of its lawmakers defecting to back her impeachment, and Mr Hong came a distant second to new President Moon Jae In in the election to choose her successor.

Liberty Korea, which now holds 107 seats in the 299-member House, is hoping that Park's expulsion will prompt some lawmakers to return and help it regain its status as the largest party from Mr Moon's Democrats, which has 121 seats.

Mr Hong said: "I judged that in order for the Liberty Korea Party to regain its status as the main conservative bloc, it must cast off its yoke as the Park Geun Hye party."

Park's rise to power in 2012 was due largely to the popularity of her late father, Park Chung Hee, who had spearheaded the South's stellar economic growth under his military-backed rule from 1961 to 1979.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2017, with the headline 'Park's party expels her in bid to regain status'. Print Edition | Subscribe