South Korea Braces for Largest Anti-Park Protests

The scandal is centered on the close relationship between Park and Choi.The scandal is centered on the close relationship between Park and Choi.

Some two million people are expected to join nationwide protests in South Korea to demand the resignation of President Park Geun-hye, organizers say. They estimate 1.5 million will gather in Seoul and 500,000 in other regions - in what would be largest rallies since the demonstrations began five week ago.

About 25,000 police are being deployed in the capital, local media report. Park is accused of allowing her friend, Choi Soon-sil, to manipulate power from behind the scenes. The president has apologized twice on national television, but has so far resisted calls to resign, BBC reported.

The fallout from the scandal shows no sign of abating, with South Korea witnessing the largest protests since pro-democracy demonstrations of the 1980s.

On Saturday, members of the Korean Peasants League, the country’s largest farmers group, are expected to join the protest in Seoul. The farmers had wanted to bring 1,000 tractors and other machinery near the government quarter - but were banned from doing so by a court order.

The organizers said as many as 500,000 people attended a peaceful candlelit rally in the capital last weekend, bringing streets to a standstill. Police put the figure far lower.

Park, whose approval rating has dropped to 5%, apologized earlier this month for putting “too much faith in a personal relationship”, and has pledged to cooperate in an official investigation into the scandal.

South Korea’s constitution does not allow a sitting president to be prosecuted, and Park has 15 months left in her term. But now that prosecutors have directly linked her to the scandal, it is possible she could be impeached for breaking the law.

Prosecutors are expected to bring charges against Choi, along with two former presidential aides. She was arrested earlier this month. Choi is accused of trying to extort huge sums of money from South Korean companies, and suspected of using her friendship with Park to solicit business donations for a non-profit fund she controlled.

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