UPDATE : 2018.1.23 TUE 09:49
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Ousted leader Park remains defiant as she returns to private home

Former President Park Geun-hye arrived at her private home in southern Seoul on Sunday, two days after the Constitutional Court ruled to dismiss her over a massive corruption scandal that triggered a leadership crisis and left the nation sharply divided.

Upon arrival, the ousted leader apologized to her supporters for her failure to complete her five-year term, but stopped short of accepting the court's ruling.

"I feel sorry that I have failed to complete the presidential mandate given to me," Park said in a statement that Liberty Korea Party Rep. Min Kyung-wook, Park's former spokesman, read out after Park arrived at her private residence in Samseong neighborhood.

"Though it will take time, I believe the truth will be definitely unearthed," she added, indicating she still does not acknowledge her corruption charges ranging from bribery to abuse of authority.

Park is alleged to have allowed her friend Choi Soon-sil with no government post to meddle in state affairs and colluded with Choi in extorting money and favors from local conglomerates such as Samsung Group. Both have flatly denied the charges with Park calling them a "colossal mountain of preposterous lies."

As a motorcade carrying her and her aides and security staff neared her home, her supporters standing on each side of the alley, called on "our president" to stay strong and fight to reverse the ruling. Her well-wishers, some teary-eyed, brandished national flags, chanting emotional words of encouragement.

Beyond the alley, Park's opponents demanded that she immediately face a prosecutorial probe. Some called for her arrest, denouncing her sleaze allegations.

Right in front of her residence, the so-called pro-Park lawmakers, including Suh Chung-won, Choi Kyung-hwan and Yoon Sang-hyun, as well as former and current presidential secretaries greeted her.

"Thank you for coming," Park was quoted by the lawmakers as telling them.

Former President Park Geun-hye smiles in front of her supporters upon arrival at her private home in southern Seoul on March 12, 2017

Park had lived in the private home from 1990 to 2013 before moving into the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

A some 1,000-strong police force was deployed around the house to prevent possible violence.

Park's aides said the repair work of her house began immediately after the court ruling Friday.

The residential boiler at her home was fixed and other home furnishings, such as wallpaper were being prepared on Sunday. A space where her security guards can stay is being created inside the residence, according to other sources.

Sedans carrying ousted President Park Geun-hye and guards leave the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae for her private residence in southern Seoul on March 12, 2017, two days after she was removed from office at her impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court.

In Friday's verdict, the court said her legal violations were "too serious to be tolerated," and that the benefits to defending the Constitution by removing her from office are "overwhelmingly large."

The ruling made Park the nation's first president to be sacked by the parliamentary impeachment.

With Park having become an ordinary citizen, she is expected to face questioning by the prosecution. While in office, she evaded prosecution as the Constitution stipulates a sitting president will not be charged in a criminal case except in cases of treason or insurrection.

Observers say prosecutors may be careful in determining the timing of an inquiry into the former president, as it could influence the upcoming presidential by-election.

The nation is to hold the election within two months of the verdict

(Yonhap)

Sung Min Kim  edt@koreapost.com

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