South Korean President Park Geun-hye says she is offering to resign her position, but only if the Parliament approves. Park is involved in an extortion and corruption scandal that involves her close friend, Choi Soon-sil. Choi, who is at the center of the controversy, also serves as Park’s spiritual advisor, but has also been accused of being heavily involved with all of Park’s decisions, from wardrobe to North Korean policy.
Park addressed the nation on Tuesday, her third time since the scandal broke. The president said she would “leave to Parliament everything about my future including shortening of my term.”
The announcement may be an attempt to shift some of the focus to Parliament, especially as hundreds of thousands of South Koreans have protested Park on the streets and called for her resignation.
The Parliament will meet Friday to discuss possible impeachment for Park, but members of her party are hoping she will step down before it gets to that point. If Park is removed from office, the prime minister will take over as an interim head of government.
Park was elected on a platform of limiting the influence of chaebol, the term for large multinational corporations like Samsung. Instead, Choi, with Park as an accomplice according to authorities, extorted millions of dollars from the chaebol. Choi also used her position of influence to secure donations for a non-profit she ran. Prosecutors allege that Choi got $66 million donated to two of her non-profits by two members of the chaebol in exchange for the government approving their controversial merger. The prosecutors also say that Choi took some of that money for herself.
Choi and Park’s friendship dates back decades. Park is the daughter of the former president and dictator of South Korea, Park Chung-hee. Choi is the daughter of the late religious cult leader Choi Tae-min. Park’s mother was killed in an assassination attempt meant for her father and the elder Choi said that he could communicate with the mother from the grave. Since then, the younger Choi has served as a spiritual leader to the younger Park.
Choi is in police custody and told reporters that she she apologizes for a “sin I deserve to die for.”