UPDATE : 2018.7.18 WED 17:10
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Rival rallies heat up as impeachment ruling nears

The weekly rallies that have become a constant feature of Seoul life are expected to gain further traction Saturday as the Constitutional Court nears its ruling on President Park Geun-hye's impeachment.

The president's opponents, who launched the candlelight rallies soon after her corruption scandal emerged in October, are set to stage their 19th protest in Gwanghwamun Square to demand her ouster. Her supporters, meanwhile, will hold their 16th rally in front of nearby City Hall to call for her reinstatement.

Anti-Park protesters (above) and pro-Park protesters (below) hold separate rallies in downtown Seoul on March 1, 2017, with a police barricade serving as a divide between them. (Yonhap)

Park was impeached by the National Assembly on Dec. 9 for allegedly letting her friend Choi Soon-sil meddle in state policymaking and colluding with her to extort money from local conglomerates including Samsung Group.

With the court's ruling only a week away, the divide between the two groups is expected to peak.

Anti-Park protesters have adopted the theme "March without Park" to highlight their desire to see the president permanently removed from office this month.

The court is widely expected to announce its ruling on Friday or on March 13 before one of its justices retires and creates another vacancy on the bench. It has yet to reveal the date.

After the gathering, protesters plan to march toward the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the court, which are all located within walking distance of the square.

Activists involved in the planning said they expect women's groups to join them for the rally ahead of International Women's Day on March 8.

Pro-Park protesters have been markedly more aggressive in their campaign.

"We now face the final battle toward victory," said a rally organizer. "Come, regardless of the means and method. Come out holding hands with at least one person."

If Park is ousted, South Korea is required to hold a presidential election within 60 days. Observers fear there will be more division and chaos regardless of the court's decision. (Yonhap)

Kim Su  edt@koreapost.com

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