AN election will be held in May to choose a successor to ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-hye. The Constitutional Court ruled on Friday to formally end her presidency over a huge political scandal involving the 65-year-old and her confidante Choi Soon-sil.
By law, South Korea must hold a national vote to find Park’s successor within two months of the ruling. The interior ministry said yesterday that May 9 has been chosen as the date for the election.
The scandal has made Park hugely unpopular in South Korea, and she caused further anger by abandoning her two dogs and their litter of seven pups when she moved out of the presidential palace on Sunday.
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Park’s neighbours gave her a pair of Jindo dogs, a Korean breed of hunting dogs, when she moved into the official residence, the Blue House, in 2013.
Palace spokesman Kim Dong-jo said yesterday that the puppies, which are considered too young to be separated from their mother, will remain at the presidential palace until they are ready to be sent to new owners. Park asked staff members to take good care of the dogs before leaving, Kim said.
But Kim Ae Ra, who heads the Korea Alliance for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the group has filed a complaint with South Korea’s Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission over the dogs. The commission then asked the National Police Agency to look into the matter.
It is unclear whether Park’s actions qualify as abandonment under the country’s animal protection law. It defines lost or abandoned animals as those “wandering without an owner in public places” or “left deserted in paper boxes or other containers”.
Animal abandonment is punishable by a fine of up to one million won (£718) in South Korea. People who fail to report an ownership change for pets within 30 days can also face fines of up to 500,000 won.
Moon Jae-in, a liberal opposition leader who lost the 2012 presidential election to Park, is the favourite to be the country’s next leader according to opinion polls.