Political parties were sharply divided on Friday in their reactions to a heavy jail sentence for former President Park Geun-hye.
In a nationally televised trial, the Seoul Central District Court sentenced Park to 24 years in prison and fined her 18 billion won (US$16.8 million), convicting her of 16 counts of corruption, including bribery, coercion and abuse of power.
The ruling Democratic Party welcomed the ruling, saying it reflects public sentiment well.
"This sentence is the court's stern judgment on the act of using the presidential position to undermine the constitutional order, damage the rule of law and secure personal interests from conglomerates," Kim Hyun, the party's spokeswoman, said.
Citizens watch a TV broadcast of the sentencing trial of former President Park Geun-hye at the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul on April 6, 2018. (Yonhap) Citizens watch a TV broadcast of the sentencing trial of former President Park Geun-hye at the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul on April 6, 2018. (Yonhap)
Kim also denounced Park for refusing to appear at the sentencing hearing.
"That is an attitude of squarely disavowing the rule of law that she had stressed while in office," she said. "That is very inappropriate and an arrogant act that ignores citizens."
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party, which Park once belonged to, issued a terse statement criticizing the live broadcast of the trial.
"The content of the ruling has already been expected," Jun Hee-kyung, the party's spokeswoman, said. "It is very deplorable that the court proceedings were broadcast like a sports program."
The minor Bareunmirae Party said that Park's ruling reinforced the case for a change to the current concentration of power in the presidency that has been blamed for corruption, abuse of power and intense political division.
"The ruling was a testament to the fact that the emperor-like presidential system should not continue anymore," Shin Yong-hyeon, the party's spokeswoman, said. "By definitely reforming the presidential system, we have to build a genuine democracy."
The Justice Party said that the court should have meted out a heavier sentence for Park.
"Former President Park is a criminal in our history who has shaken the foundation of the Republic of Korea's constitutional structure and democracy," Choi Seok, its spokesman, said.(Yonhap News)