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Ousted South Korean President Leaves Presidential Palace

Ousted South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye, center, arrives at her private home in Seoul, South Korea, on Sunday. She vacated the presidential palace and returned to her home two days after the Constitutional Court removed her from office.
Ahn Young-joon

Two days after the Constitutional Court removed her from office, ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye left the presidential palace and returned to her home.

As NPR's Elise Hu reports, Park stayed in the presidential compound for 50 hours after being stripped of power. Three people died in protests following the impeachment this weekend.

She released her first statement since her ouster, in which she apologized for failing to fulfill her duties as president. But she also struck a defiant tone. "Although it will take time, I believe the truth will certainly come out," she said, according to the AP.

The AP describes the scene as Park returned to her home in the Gangnam area of Seoul:

"Park was greeted by hundreds of supporters who thunderously chanted her name and waved the South Korean flag as her bodyguard-flanked black sedan slowly rolled onto a path near the house. Park, dressed in a dark blue coat and her hair tied in a bun, smiled and waved from inside the car. She then stepped out and shook hands and exchanged brief words with members of her political party before going inside the house."

Now that she is a private citizen, Park could face criminal corruption charges related to allegations that she conspired with her friend Choi Soon-sil.

The impeachment comes after months of political turmoil and protests. Polls of South Koreans before Park's impeachment found that 70 percent of Koreans wanted Park out.

Park is South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office; she was also the country's first female head of state. Her father, Park Chung-hee, was a dictator during the Cold War era, before being assassinated in 1979.

The country's prime minister, Hwang Kyo-ahn, is now acting president. A snap presidential election will be held in May, and liberal Moon Jae-in is the current favorite. He lost to Park in 2012.

Relations with North Korea remain tense. A week ago, North Korea test-fired a handful of missiles into the Sea of Japan.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.
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