Emotions Run High as Impeachment Ruling Nears

Michelle Jung, Feb. 24, 2017, 9:21 a.m.

Emotions are running high among protesters as the date of the Constitutional Court's ruling on President Park Geun-hye's impeachment approaches.

Park's opponents are threatening a "revolution" if the court rules against removing the tainted president, while die-hard supporters are warning of "civil war" if the judges consider otherwise. Politicians and Constitutional Court judges have been getting death threats.

Meanwhile rumors are spreading that Park is trying to wrangle a deal whereby she steps down in return for escaping prosecution. Cheong Wa Dae has categorically denied the rumors, and Park remains holed up at her residence.

The Constitutional Court on Thursday requested 24-hour police protection for the eight judges, and police have bolstered patrols around their homes.

Minjoo Party presidential hopeful Moon Jae-in's aides said they have hired private security. One of Moon's aides said, "We've received several death threats and learned through our channels that they should be taken seriously."

Politicians are fanning uncertainties by spreading and exaggerating rumors of Park's resignation. People's Party leader Park Jie-won told reporters Thursday there is a "possibility" of the president offering to step down on condition that she stays out of jail.

Cheong Wa Dae called the claim "ridiculous" and added they were "politically motivated attempts to influence the Constitutional Court's ruling."

The rumors were fanned by remarks from Chung Woo-taik, the floor leader of Park's sinking ruling party, who last Monday called for a "political solution." And seven pro-Park lawmakers with legal backgrounds on Thursday demanded a halt to the impeachment trial, claiming there were problems in the process.

A group of former lawmakers and the Korean Bar Association have issued statements urging politicians to accept the court's ruling. 

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