Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye left the presidential palace on Sunday evening, two days after the country’s Constitutional Court removed her from office over a massive corruption scandal.
South Korean television showed Park leaving the Blue House in a motorcade of fast-driving black cars, flanked by police motorbikes, after bidding farewell to staff, an official said. She was heading for her home in the Gangnam district of the capital, Seoul, where hundreds of flag-waving supporters waited.
“President Park Geun-hye has just now departed the Blue House and headed for her private home,” a Blue House official said by text message.
The Constitutional Court formally removed Park from office on Friday, upholding an impeachment motion filed by politicians in December amid suspicions that she colluded with a confidante to extort money and favours from companies and allowed the friend to secretly manipulate state affairs.
The ruling ended a power struggle that had consumed the nation for months and marked a stunning downfall for Park, who convincingly defeated her liberal opponent in 2012 with overwhelming support from older South Koreans, who remembered her father, a former South Korean leader, as a hero.
Hundreds of Park’s supporters stood near her private home for hours on Sunday before she vacated the Blue House. They waved the South Korean flag and photos of Park and her late father, Park Chung-hee, singing the national anthem and shouting “Nullify impeachment!”
Members of Park’s conservative party also gathered at her home.
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Seoul, said there were many people in the country who did not agree with the outcome of the court ruling.
“There is a very large body of supporters here in South Korea who feel very protective towards her, who feel she’s been hounded out of office and who think she’s been treated unfairly,” McBride said.
Workers were earlier seen unloading a television, washing machine, bed and other household items from trucks and carrying them into Park’s house.
Park no longer has immunity from prosecution and may face criminal charges including extortion, bribery and abuse of power.
She has not made a public statement since Friday’s court ruling. She earlier apologised for putting trust in her jailed friend, Choi Soon-sil, but strongly denied any legal wrongdoing.
Park, 65, is South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office.
South Korea now has to elect a new president by early May. Opinion polls show liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost to Park in 2012, as the favourite to become the country’s next leader.