South Korean lawmakers vote to impeach President Park Geun-hye

SEOUL — South Korea's parliament voted overwhelmingly to impeach President Park Geun-hye on Friday after a huge political scandal involving a childhood friend and confidant left her isolated and loathed.

For more than a month, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans have spilled onto the streets each Saturday to protest Park's relationship with Choi Soon-sil who is accused of massive influence peddling.

Prosecutors say the 64-year-old colluded in Choi's criminal activities to manipulate government affairs and extort businesses. Choi is the daughter of late cult leader Choi Tae-min, who himself befriended Park as a young woman after saying her assassinated mother had appeared in his dreams.

The allegations have plunged the world's 11th biggest economy into an unprecedented crisis and exposed a series of bizarre revelations — including the mass government purchase of erectile dysfunction medication, Viagra.

While Friday's vote count was 234 for the motion and 56 against with nine abstained or nullified, the next steps were not immediately clear. Parliament's decision needs to be deliberated by the country's constitutional court, which could take up to 180 days.

RELATED: President Park Geun-Hye approval rating in South Korea

However, it is expected Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will immediately take over Park's responsibilities once she is officially stripped of her presidential powers at around 7 p.m. (5 a.m. ET).

President Park responded Friday's developments during a nationally televised cabinet meeting, saying she was sorry for having "caused so much chaos at the national level due to my lack of virtue and my mistakes."

"I honestly accept the voices of the parliament and the people very gravely and sincerely hope that the current chaos will be resolved," she said. "I will be calmly responding to the impeachment course."

Park, who has immunity from prosecution in the case as long as she remains in office, has denied wrongdoing but acknowledged carelessness in her ties with her friend, who has already been indicted.

RELATED: South Korean parliamentary vote for impeachment

Nam Jung-su, a spokesman for the Emergency People's Alliance to Oust Park Geun-hye, which was organizing the weekly protests of millions that have shaken the country, called for Park to step down immediately.

"This is what the people wanted and this is what the power of people has achieved, not the opposition politicians," he said.

"Now there is no more excuse for the president to sit there at the presidential office anymore and we want the president to step down right away. We also want her cabinet to resign right away," Nam said, promising that his group was organizing another demonstration for Friday night.

RELATED: Brazil impeachment -- demonstrations and protests

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Brazil impeachment -- demonstrations and protests
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Brazil impeachment -- demonstrations and protests
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Pro-impeachment supporters watch a live television broadcast as lower house deputies cast their votes in the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff on April 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. President Rousseff is facing a crucial impeachment vote in the lower house of Congress today. Rio will host the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff react while watching the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Giant balloons depicting President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff and former President of Brazil Inacio Lula Da Silva are displayed by protesters in favor of impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff on April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Cris Faga/LatinContent/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Protesters in favor of impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in the streets on April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Cris Faga/LatinContent/Getty Images)
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff react while watching the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff react while watching the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Protesters in favor of impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in the streets April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff react while watching the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
A supporter of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff follows on big screens in Sao Paulo, the voting of lawmakers at the Congress in Brasilia on whether the impeachment of Rousseff will move forward, on April 17, 2016. The voting followed a raucous debate that transfixed the deeply divided nation. The opposition needs a total of 342 out of the 513 deputies in the lower house of Congress to authorize the trial. Rousseff, whose approval rating has plunged to a dismal 10 percent, faces charges of embellishing public accounts to mask the budget deficit during her 2014 reelection. / AFP / Miguel Schincariol (Photo credit should read MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff follow on big screens in Sao Paulo, the voting of lawmakers at the Congress in Brasilia on whether the impeachment of Rousseff will move forward, on April 17, 2016. The voting followed a raucous debate that transfixed the deeply divided nation. The opposition needs a total of 342 out of the 513 deputies in the lower house of Congress to authorize the trial. Rousseff, whose approval rating has plunged to a dismal 10 percent, faces charges of embellishing public accounts to mask the budget deficit during her 2014 reelection. / AFP / Miguel Schincariol (Photo credit should read MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Protesters opposed to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in the streets April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff react while watching the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff watch the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Activists supporting the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff take part in a demonstration in Sao Paulo Brazil on April 17 2016. Brazilian lawmakers voted Sunday on whether President Dilma Rousseff should face impeachment trial in a tense, at times circus-like showdown watched live by millions around the deeply divided country. / AFP / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Pro-impeachment supporters watch a live television broadcast before lower house deputies cast their votes in the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff on April 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. President Rousseff is facing a crucial impeachment vote in the lower house of Congress today. Rio will host the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Protesters opposed to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in the streets April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 17: Protesters opposed to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in the streets April 17, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lower House of Congress will hold a vote on whether to impeach Rousseff over charges of manipulating government accounts for political gains. (Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
Brazilians in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff watch the televised voting of the Lower House of Congress over her impeachment in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
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