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South Koreans celebrate Park's ouster in last, festive candlelight rally

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

03-12-2017 10:30 BJT

SEOUL, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets on Saturday night for a last, festive candlelight rally to celebrate former President Park Geun-hye's ouster.

Demonstrators against South Korea

Demonstrators against South Korea's ousted leader Park Geun-hye attend the last candlelight rally at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, South Korea, March 11, 2017. Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets on Saturday night for a last, festive candlelight rally to celebrate former President Park Geun-hye's ouster. (Xinhua/Lee Sang-ho)

The constitutional court handed down a unanimous ruling Friday to force Park out of office. Park became the first South Korean president to be ousted through impeachment.

The streets and roads along the Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul were crowded with people welcoming the court's decision. Some took a selfie in celebration of the historic moment, with others setting off fireworks.

Groups of musicians rollicked around, playing traditional South Korean percussion. During the main event, jubilant people with a candle in their hands cheered each other as they took part in the rally that lasted ever Saturday night for the past five months.

It was the last candlelight vigil as the scandal-hit president was permanently removed from office. Participants called for Park's imprisonment and the transfer of presidential power.

"It was a victory in the square and the politics of candlelight," one speaker said on the main stage. He demanded Park be imprisoned and the presidential Blue House be searched over an influence-peddling scandal.

Park, 65, was subject to criminal indictment and detention as she lost her immunity as the head of state. Prosecutors have branded Park as an accomplice of Choi Soon-sil, Park's decades-long confidante who is now in custody for multiple charges including bribery.

According to a local pollster survey, 69.4 percent respondents said Park should be taken into custody for investigation. Those in favor of probe without detention were 17.8 percent, while just 9.6 percent people were against any investigation.

An overwhelming majority of South Koreans, both liberal and conservative, demanded in one voice that corruptions and unfairness be cleared away.

"The ancient regime symbolized by Park Geun-hye came to an end, and a new era will be ushered in," said Peter Lee, an office worker who attended the boisterous candlelight vigil.

Lee said both progressive and conservative voters shouted in union for the end of the Park government, which he said would be the best legacy left behind candlelight vigils. Park's ouster means justice still prevails in South Korea, he added.

But the possibility of conflicts still remains. Hundreds of meters away from the square, loyalists to Park held a separate rally, refusing to accept the court's decision. They claimed that Park is innocent and the trial is unconstitutional.

Three Park supporters died in the pro-Park demonstration on Friday as enraged protesters clashed with riot police following the court's ruling to uphold the impeachment motion.

According to the Realmeter poll, 86 percent of people believed the court's ruling was right. Only 12 percent said it was not right, with 2 percent declining to reply.

A whopping 92 percent said people should accept the court's decision. Those against the ruling took up just 6 percent of the total respondents.

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