SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s embattled president accepted the resignation of her justice minister on Monday, the latest in a series of personnel reshuffles she’s made amid a political scandal that’s threatening her leadership.
Justice Minister Kim Hyun-woong and a senior presidential adviser offered to resign last week after prosecutors directly linked President Park Geun-hye to alleged misdeeds by her jailed shadowy confidante at the center of the scandal.
Park’s office said in a statement Monday that she had accepted Kim’s resignation but withheld the one by her adviser.
Park has already fired eight of her presidential aides and nominated a new prime minister to try to regain public trust. But South Koreans have staged massive rallies in Seoul for five straight weekends, calling for her ouster.
Opposition lawmakers have said they’ll push for Park’s parliamentary impeachment by early December because she hasn’t acceded to their request to step down voluntarily. The floor leaders of three main opposition parties are to meet Wednesday to determine when to submit an impeachment motion, according to the Democratic Party, the largest opposition party.
If Park is impeached, she’ll be immediately deprived of her presidential powers until the Constitutional Court can rule on her fate. The court has up to 180 days to make a decision.
At the heart of the scandal is Choi Soon-sil, Park’s longtime friend and the daughter of a late cult leader who allegedly meddled in state affairs and pressured companies to donate millions of dollars to foundations controlled by her at the request of Park.
Prosecutors have so far indicted Choi, two ex-presidential officials and a music video director known as a Choi associate for extortion, leakage of confidential documents and other charges.
Park, who has immunity from prosecution while in office, is refusing to meet with prosecutors. Her lawyer, Yoo Yeong-ha, has described prosecutors’ accusations against Park as groundless. He said Monday that Park would not accept a fresh request by prosecutors to undergo questioning on Tuesday.