The December 9 impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye has created a vacuum of political leadership in South Korea. Normally, the South Korean president would lead a full court press to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s commitment to the U.S.-ROK security alliance and coordinate a consistent approach to the growing North Korean nuclear threat.
Instead, South Korea’s bureaucracy muddles through by managing day-to-day activities under an acting president while South Korea’s Constitutional Court deliberates for up to 180 days on whether to uphold or reject the South Korean National Assembly’s impeachment motion. Presidential candidates prepare for an early election that will be held sixty days following the court’s judgment if the impeachment is upheld. If the impeachment is rejected, elections will be held in December 2017 as originally scheduled. Until South Korea has a new president, South Korea’s political vacuum will not be filled.
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