South Korean monk self-immolates at anti-Park rally

January 8, 2017 7:00 pm

Protesters carry portraits of ’s President during a protest demanding that the impeached president resign immediately, in Seoul, January 7, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A Buddhist monk in South Korea has set himself on fire during a mass protest against the country’s impeached President Park Geun-hye over an influence-peddling scandal.
South Korean police officials said the 64-year-old monk, whose name was not released in reports, set himself ablaze late Saturday night in the center of the capital, Seoul, where hundreds of thousands had taken to the streets for the eleventh week to demand Park’s ouster.
The man reportedly suffered third-degree burns across his body and serious damage to vital organs. He is unconscious and unable to breathe on his own, according to a hospital official.
The Yonhap agency said the man had left a note calling on authorities to arrest the embattled president for committing “treason.”
The news comes as the Constitutional Court in South Korea is continuing hearings in Park’s impeachment trial.
South Korean lawmakers had voted by a large margin on December 9, 2016 to impeach Park over a major corruption scandal, in which the first female president of the East Asian country allegedly colluded with long-time confidante Choi Soon-sil to pressure major corporations to contribute money to non-profit foundations controlled by Choi.
Park has denied misconduct in the case but nevertheless apologized for being careless in her ties with Choi, who is facing her own trial.
If the Constitutional Court confirms the impeachment vote, a process for which it has 180 days, Park will become the first elected president in the country to be forced out of office.
The monk who self-immolated on Saturday had also called the scandal-hit president a “traitor” over an agreement that Park’s government signed with Japan in 2015 to settle compensation for South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II.
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