South Korean markets were mixed Thursday as investors kept to the sidelines ahead of the Judgment Day on President Park Geun-hye set for 11:00 a.m. Friday whose results could either open a new chapter in Korean political history and remove a major factor for uncertainty or push the country into further social and political disarray.
The Constitutional Court after 150-minute discussions on Wednesday announced that it will deliver its verdict on Friday from its deliberation on the validity of Dec. 9 legislative motion to impeach South Korean President Park Geun-hey for multiple wrongdoings including power abuse and negligence in duty.
The main Korean composite stock price index closed 4.35 points lower at 2,091.06 after opening higher while the secondary Kosdaq index finished 0.38 points higher at 606.13. The dollar which rallied around the world after strong job data further pointed to a rate hike next week ended 12.6 won higher at 1,158.1 won, highest since Feb. 1 closing.
The Constitutional Court had until June to deliberate on the motion, but it chose to close the case before its acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi’s term ends on Monday. A full bench composed of nine justices is required to review an impeachment case with attendance of seven or more justices. Without Lee, the bench would be left with seven as Chief Justice Park Han-chul’s term ended in January.
If the court supports the legislative impeachment, Park will immediately have to step down. She would make the first Korean president to be dismissed from office before tenure on impeachment. Formerly impeached President Roh Moo-hyun was acquitted in the 2004 ruling.
A presidential election could be held early around May 9. Upon losing title and judicial immunity, Park would have to comply with summoning and questioning by state prosecutors. If the court strikes down the impeachment, Park would return to office and finish her term that formerly ends in February. The outcome also would demoralize the ongoing probe on the power abuse scandal on Park and inner circle.
Judges will discuss till the last hour before the verdict deadline. Each judges’ opinion would be made public. The court process and result will be aired live.
By Lee Hyun-jung
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]