Former President Park Geun-hye's supporters and opponents held opposing rallies outside the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in southern Seoul on Tuesday, as the ousted leader appeared before prosecutors to be questioned over allegations of corruption.
Scores of demonstrators from the two sides gathered on the streets leading to one of the entrances to the prosecutors' office compound early in the morning.
A group of 20 pro-Park citizens, who appear to be in their 60s and 70s, waved Korean national flags and fervently chanted slogans like "Impeachment is Invalid" with some bursting into tears when the motorcade of the former president entered the western gate at 9:22 a.m.
On March 10, the Constitutional Court upheld the National Assembly's impeachment of Park over corruption allegations.
"I came here at 6:40 a.m. Prosecutors have yet to investigate many other suspects in the scandal but summoned the (former) president ahead of them. A president cannot be treated like this. The candlelight vigil alone cannot represent the public sentiment," said a man who identified himself as Shin.
The supporters stayed near the western gate for a while even after Park disappeared through the entrance of the prosecutors' office building.
Nearby, a group of anti-Park protesters shouted "Arrest Park Geun-hye!" and heaped boos and jeers as her motorcade arrived.
They also held a rally near the office's main gate calling for her arrest.
"Prosecutors will never be free from the people's judgment if they fail to arrest Park Geun-hye. The candlelight vigil protesters are watching them. She must be immediately detained today," said Choi Jong-jin, a deputy head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.
Despite the simultaneous opposing rallies in the same area, there were no reports of physical clashes between the two groups, as police mobilized hundreds of troops around the prosecutors' office to maintain order.
Ordinary citizens who watched Park arrive at the prosecutors' office and her brief customary remarks through a live television broadcast also showed different reactions.
"Park said she will faithfully undergo questioning. I regret she didn't comply with earlier questioning by special prosecutors. This time I suspect again she lied to the people," said 31-year-old dentist Kim In-seok.
A 30-year-old man who identified himself as Lee said he was disappointed at Park, as she didn't admit to her wrongdoings and look sincere.
Civic activist Ahn Jin-geol said Park virtually denied her charges again, as she made a meaningless remark to the people.
Another group of citizens, on the other hand, said they can understand Park's brief message.
"There could be controversy over the words of the former president but she appeared to try to emphasize she will be faithful before prosecutors," said a 40-year-old man who asked to be called Park.
Lee Ok-nam, a civic activist, expressed hope that Park's appearance before prosecutors would lead to the prevalence of truth.
Civil servants also expressed mixed emotions, with many voicing the wish to see the nation overcome the current political turmoil as quickly as possible. (Yonhap)