01:51 - Source: CNN
South Korea deals with presidential ousting

Story highlights

South Koreans set to go to the polls May 9

Special election convened after ex-leader's impeachment upheld less than a week ago

CNN  — 

The date for South Korea’s presidential election has been announced, with the country set to vote on its next leader nearly two months after a court upheld the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye.

The country’s presidential elections will take place on May 9, Interior Minister Hong Yun-sik said Wednesday. Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn will not run in the election, he confirmed.

“I have concluded that it is not appropriate for me to run in the election, to maintain stable national security and manage a fair election,” Hwang said.

The special election was announced following the downfall of Park, the first female South Korean leader. Last week the country’s Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary vote to impeach Park over allegations of corruption and cronyism.

With the ruling, she became the country’s first democratically elected leader to be forcibly removed.

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

Signaling a swing toward the left?

With Park’s ruling conservatives looking out of favor, it seems likely the country will turn to the left-wing opposition, which has signaled it would be likely to pursue a policy of engagement with the North.

A left-wing government would also place into question the continued deployment in South Korea of a US missile defense system, which is bitterly opposed by China.

Liberal candidate Moon Jae-in, of the opposition Democratic United Party, led opinion polls shortly after Park’s ouster was confirmed. Moon was defeated narrowly by Park in 2012.

Park’s impeachment left the country divided, with a hard core of her supporters continuing to demonstrate long after the court’s decision was announced Friday. Demonstrations following her removal turned violent, with three people reported killed.

Park’s exit seen as chance to reset China relations


Park’s election in 2013 as South Korea’s first female president was widely celebrated as a milestone. But her response to a ferry disaster and accusations of being unduly influenced by a longtime friend and adviser tainted her rule.

She was ultimately brought down by a corruption scandal that has dominated South Korean politics for months.

Questions about her ties with Choi Soon-sil, who is on trial for abuse of power and fraud, emerged last year.

The President was accused of being unduly influenced by Choi, who was arrested after being accused of abusing her relationship with the President. Park denies claims that she forced companies to donate millions of dollars to foundations she had established.

With her removal from office, Park also loses the immunity that the executive enjoys, and could also be indicted for corruption.

Prosecutors have confirmed that they notified Park’s lawyer that she needs to appear at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on March 21 to be interviewed as a suspect over allegations she colluded with Choi to extort money from Samsung.

Park denies the allegations.

Journalist Taehoon Lee reported from Seoul, South Korea. CNN’s Euan McKirdy wrote and reported from Hong Kong.