Seoul - South Korean lawmakers on Friday voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye, a stunning and swift fall for the country's first female leader amid protests that drew millions into the streets in united fury.
Once formal documents are handed over to the presidential Blue House later on Friday, Park will be stripped of her power and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will assume leadership until the country's Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently step down.
The court has up to 180 days to decide. Park will be formally removed from office if six of the court's nine justices support her impeachment, and the country would then hold a presidential election within 60 days.
National Assembly speaker Chung Sye-kyun said the bill on Park's impeachment was passed by a vote of 236 for and 56 opposed, with 9 invalid votes and abstentions. That well surpassed the necessary two-thirds support in the 300-seat assembly. The opposition needed help from members of Park's party to get the needed votes, and it got it.
Relatives of the victims from a 2014 ferry disaster that killed more than 300 and was blamed in part on government incompetence and corruption, who were in the parliament observing the vote, cheered and clapped after the outcome was announced. Most lawmakers left the hall quietly, though some could be seen taking selfies as they waited to vote.