Expert Voices

Park's imprisonment a sign of Korean right's decline

South Korean ex-President Park Geun-hye escorted by a prison guard
Park Geun-hye, former president of South Korea, is escorted by a prison officer as she arrives at the Seoul Central District Court on July 27, 2017. Photo: Seong Joon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s former president and the first in the country's history to be impeached, was sentenced to 24 years in prison last week and fined $16 million for charges of corruption, as the Korean public watched the verdict broadcast live. Park once enjoyed the honor of being not only Korea's first female president but also the daughter of a former president, Park Chung-hee.

Why it matters: The imprisonment of Park, a conservative, furthers a historic leftward shift in Korea. Long dominated by the right, the political landscape is now being seized by progressives. We can expect the battle between the opposing forces to intensify as the two sides confront each other on issues such as North Korea and the U.S.–ROK alliance.