Analysis: Park and the Court Decision

Question: So take us through the judgment a bit more closely.

Okamoto: Well ultimately, they decided her violations against the constitution and the law were serious enough to dismiss her. They said she didn't demonstrate she was abiding by the constitution. They said dismissing Park is beneficial for the country because her actions have had a hugely negative impact on the rule of law.

Let's go into some detail on the aspects the court weighed. Lawmakers accused Park of various wrongdoings, including allowing her longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil to intervene in government staffing. They also denounced Park, saying she didn't take appropriate measures to save lives in a deadly ferry disaster. But the judges didn't agree. They said those allegations lack evidence. However, they concluded Park did abuse her Presidential authority to favor Choi. They say Park supported Choi, who personally profited through managing foundations.

Lawmakers accused Park of urging major conglomerates to donate funds to those organizations. And they said Park betrayed public trust through her words and actions. Park had apologized for causing concern 3 times. But at the same time, they said she tried to hide Choi's involvement in the government, and that Park denounced the media that were raising questions. She also refused to answer questions at court, and didn't allow prosecutors to search the Presidential office for evidence.

Question: So what's the difference this time? Did public opinion tip the scales?

Okamoto: I think the judges weren't totally free from public opinion. Week after week, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to call for Park to step down. They were some of the largest demonstrations ever seen in the country, and lawmakers in the National Assembly overwhelmingly supported the impeachment motion in December. So I think judges took that into account as a sign that President Park has lost credibility in the country.

Question: South Korea will now have to choose a new President. What does the race looks like right now?

Okamoto: The latest polls suggested the former head of the largest opposition party had the most support, 34 percent. Moon Jae-in was a right hand man of a former President. The former governor of South Chung Cheong Province An Hee-jung, and acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn are distantly trailing Moon in the polls. Hwang is from Park's party and expected to run for it on the conservative side.

Question: And it's been months of political turmoil. From what we've seen and what's happening now in Seoul, it looks like tensions between the sides have not gone down at all.

Okamoto: That's right. In terms of society, it seems like it might be difficult to restore stability. Today, and in recent weeks, older conservatives have been taking to the streets in support of Park. Division in the country has deepened between young and old, left and right. I think the situation won't really settle until after the next President takes office.