Police Tighten Security Ahead of President Park's Impeachment Ruling
SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- Police tightened security around government offices in Seoul on Thursday amid growing tension one day before the Constitutional Court's ruling on the president's impeachment.
Supporters of Park began rallies early in the morning chanting for the reinstatement of scandal-hit President Park Geun-hye as justices appeared at the court in central Seoul to prepare for the ruling slated for Friday 11 a.m.
Police have surrounded the court with 360 buses and mobilized some 8,400 officers nearby for contingencies.
Park's opponents held a press conference at an office of a local labor union in Seoul and urged for the permanent ouster of the president. They have waged candlelight rallies since October when the corruption scandal broke.
They are planning to gather in Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul at 7 p.m. and march towards the Constitutional Court.
Lee Cheol-seong, chief of the National Police Agency, said more forces will be mobilized Friday and ordered officers to deal sternly with those who attempt to harm justice.
"We will dispatch enough police forces to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, the Constitutional Court and the National Assembly," he said during a video conference with senior officials. "Those who try to hamper the court's ruling or use violence to disobey the decision should be dealt with strictly."
Park was impeached by parliament in December for allegedly letting her close friend Choi Soon-sil meddle in state affairs and colluding with her to extort millions of dollars from local conglomerates, including Samsung Group.
The ruling on her impeachment will be delivered by the court's acting chief Lee Jung-mi. Park is not expected to attend the hearing, which will be televised live from the main courtroom.
If the court upholds the impeachment, Park will be permanently removed from office, and South Korea is required to hold a presidential election within 60 days. Local pundits predict the election will fall on May 9.
Otherwise, Park will be immediately reinstated to serve out her term through February and the election will be held in December as scheduled.'