South Korea: Cheers, tears as Seoul wakes up to life without Park

Updated 9:40 PM EST, Sat March 11, 2017
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Story highlights

Park due to leave office after a court upheld a vote by lawmakers to impeach her

Twin protests staged both in support of, and against, impeachment

(CNN) —  

Thousands took to the streets of Seoul to celebrate the dawning of a new political reality in South Korea.

President Park Geun-hye is due to leave office after a Constitutional Court on Friday upheld a vote by lawmakers to impeach her.

With Park out, South Koreans’ attention is now turning to what leadership the next election will usher in, and how the new leadership will handle relationships with the US and North Korea.

Police presence in Seoul was heavy Saturday, after violent protests following the court’s ruling which resulted in the deaths of three demonstrators.

Pro-Park groups staged an angry demonstration outside Seoul City Hall early Saturday, singing the national anthem and waving Korean and American flags.

But as the sun went down the mood of the city was jubilant, as thousands flocked to a giant celebratory rally on the historic Gwanghwamun Square.

According to the Yonhap news agency, more than 70% of Koreans support Park’s impeachment.

Seoul music

On stage at Gwanghwamun Square, in front of Seoul’s Imperial Palace, rock bands played loud music and there was a festival-like atmosphere.

Unlike an earlier pro-Park rally, attendees at the square represented a cross section of Seoul society, as families with children, students, office workers and trade unionists celebrated together.

“We finally have our weekend back,” a presenter shouted from stage. Many of those in the crowd have been turning out every Saturday throughout the bitterly cold winter to call for Park’s ouster.

One band played a cover of Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”

“Today feels like a festival,” Mun Ha-neul, 17, said. “Everyone is feeling happy.”