The Perfect Thing to Close 2016: Political Unrest In South Korea

Article by Carlos Po

Recently, South Korean president Park Geun-hye was implicated in a massive scandal that sparked national protests. Involving an old friend named Choi Soon-sil whom she grew close to after her mother was killed by a North Korean spy, the scandal has many concerned citizens taking to the streets to protest.

The story goes that Soon-sil introduced President Park to a controversial figure: her father, Choi Tae-min, leader of a pseudo-religious cult called the Church of Eternal Life. According to documents submitted to the court, what followed next was a series of shadowy collusions as Park embezzled millions of dollars worth of funds from companies to help Choi launch several nonprofit foundations. Park also passed Choi several confidential government documents, including several regarding diplomatic relations with North Korea. In an article published by Yahoo, Choo Mi-ae, a chairwoman of Park’s main opposing political party, is quoted as saying, “this isn’t even a dictatorship. It’s a terrifying theocracy.”

This led to accusations of Park having cult connections. Further accusations of corruption have been levelled at her, sparking national outrage. While Park and her lawyer have repeatedly called the claims baseless, the shocking revelation is predicted to provide Park political rivals plenty of ammunition with which to attack her character, and there are serious talks among the South Korean parliament and populace of a possible impeachment.

Of course, ISM, having a fairly large South Korean population represented in its student body, has many students who feel very passionately about the issue. Senior Sehwan K. is one of these people. Having left South Korea to enter International School Manila in his freshman year, and with plans to return after graduation, this is an issue that affects him directly, and as such, had some choice words for President Park.

“Well, it’s pretty [messed] up, just thinking the government is not for the people. It’s kinda devastating,” he expressed on Tuesday. He repeatedly stressed the cynical surreality of the situation, stating, “This is something that you could only see in movies, but now, I could watch it on the news, on Korean news.” He ended his somber statement with, “It kinda really depresses me because I’m going back to Korea after [high] school.”

The recent events in South Korea only serve to add to the school’s feeling of political disillusionment, following the announcement of the Trump presidency several weeks ago. However, it also serves as a somber reminder of our responsibilities as international students with diverse backgrounds and considerable insight. With so many students in our school holding various positions of power, these events should drive us to be better.


Kim, Hyung-jin. “AP Explains: Things to Know about S. Korean Scandal.” Yahoo. N.p., 21 Nov. 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.