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Political unrest hits home for Korean students in Utah

By Junshi Zhao
Nov. 29, 2016

South Korean students at Utah State University are feeling the effects of political unrest back home as the calls for the resignation of President Geun-Hye Park have intensified in recent days.

The instability — resulting from recent revelations that the daughter of a famous cult leader allegedly exerted undue influence within Park’s government — has made USU student Suki Kim question a decision to return home after graduation.

Park said on Tuesday she would be willing to leave office if ordered to do so by the Republic of Korea’s parliament. If Park did resign, though, it would defy Kim’s expectations.

“I don’t think she would give up this position,” Kim said. “But things will continue to grow and get worse if she staying. It scares me.”  

Hyun Jin Cho, who is studying aviation at Utah State, agreed.

“I think it will become more serious if she decides to do nothing and keeps lying to citizens,” Cho said.

Cho took some comfort from the fact that Park is limited by Korean law to serving a single five-year term.

“The good thing is she will not be our president in a year anyway,” Cho said.

With South Korea's opposition parties preparing for impeachment against Park, Junho Park — who shares one of Korea’s most common names with the president but is of no relation — is worried for the future of his homeland.

Junho Park said he’d like to participate in a protest, as many students have over past decades during times of economic and political turbulence in Korea.

Most of the protests “were started by the youth,” he said, “because we care.”