South Korea's ousted Park leaves Blue House in disgrace


SEOUL, March 12 (Reuters) - Disgraced South Korean leader Park Geun-hye left the presidential Blue House on Sunday, two days after a court dismissed her over a corruption scandal, bound for her private home and facing the possibility of prosecution and jail.

Park left the compound 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 ruled on Friday to uphold a parliamentary vote to impeach Park, dismissing her from office over an influence-peddling scandal that has shaken the country's political and business elite.

A snap presidential election will be held by May 9.

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South Korean President Park Geun-hye's impeachment
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South Korean President Park Geun-hye's impeachment
FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (C) salutes during the 67th Armed Forces Day at Gyeryongdae, South Korea's main compound in Gyeryong City, South Korea, South Korea, October 1, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hee-Chul/Pool/File Photo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A pro-government activist (C) holds a portrait of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye outside the Constitutional Court in Seoul on February 27, 2017 as the court holds its final hearing in the impeachment trial of South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye. / AFP / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 10: Travelers watch the news reporting on South Korean President Park Geun-hye's impeachment ruling while they wait for their trains at the Seoul Station on March 10, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. The verdict on South Korean President Park's impeachment will be delivered by the Constitutional Court at 11 a.m on March 10, 2017. The hearing will be televised live from the main courtroom; Park is not expected to attend the hearing. (Photo by Jean Chung/Getty Images)
An altar to buddhist monk Jung Won is displayed at a hospital in Seoul on January 10, 2017. A South Korean Buddhist monk who set himself on fire in protest against the impeached President Park Geun-Hye has died, officials said. The monk, 64, set himself alight on January 7 in central Seoul, where hundreds of thousands held a massive rally for the 11th week to demand Park's immediate removal. / AFP / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 10: A traveler watches the news reporting on South Korean President Park Geun-hye's impeachment ruling while they wait for their trains at the Seoul Station on March 10, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. The verdict on South Korean President Park's impeachment will be delivered by the Constitutional Court at 11 a.m on March 10, 2017. The hearing will be televised live from the main courtroom; Park is not expected to attend the hearing. (Photo by Jean Chung/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 09: Supporters of South Korean President, Park Geun-hye take part in a rally in front of the Korean Constitutional Court before the impeachment verdict which is to be announced on March 10 in Seoul, South Korea on March 09, 2017. (Photo by Kim Jong Hyun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A demonstrator demanding South Korean President Park Geun-hye's impeachment holds a sign featuring a photograph of Park during a protest outside the Constitutional Court of Korea ahead of the court's ruling in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, March 10, 2017. Any successor to Park will inherit a struggling economy that faces heightened risks from China and the U.S., its biggest trading partners, as well as record household debt. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 09: Supporters of South Korean President, Park Geun-hye take part in a rally in front of the Korean Constitutional Court before the impeachment verdict which is to be announced on March 10 in Seoul, South Korea on March 09, 2017. (Photo by Kim Jong Hyun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
South Korean acting Constitutional Court's Chief Judge Lee Jung-mi, center, attends the final hearing on whether to confirm the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, at the Court in Seoul February 27, 2017. Special prosecutors investigating the swirling corruption scandal that has embroiled South Korea's impeached President Park Geun-Hye and a host of major companies lost a bid to extend their inquiry on February 27. / AFP / POOL / Ahn Young-joon (Photo credit should read AHN YOUNG-JOON/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Park Geun-hye looks at the exhibition 'DMZ-Gruenes Band' during a visit to the East Side Gallery in Berlin March 27, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Pro-government demonstrators holding US and South Korean attend a rally in central Seoul on February 11, 2017. Hundreds of thousands of people took part in rival rallies in Seoul, protesting for and against the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye, after months of political turmoil in South Korea. / AFP / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
Jang Si-ho, a niece of Choi Soon-sil, arrives at the central district court in Seoul on January 17, 2017. Choi is accused of using her ties with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye to coerce top local firms to 'donate' nearly 70 million US dollars to dubious non-profit foundations Choi then used as her personal ATMs. / AFP / POOL / Kim Min-Hee (Photo credit should read KIM MIN-HEE/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view shows a Samsung apartment building in Seoul on January 19, 2017. A South Korean court has refused to authorise the arrest of the heir to the Samsung business empire, in a setback to prosecutors probing a corruption scandal engulfing President Park Geun-Hye. / AFP / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
Choi Soon-Sil (L), the jailed confidante of disgraced South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, appears on the first day of her trial at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul on January 5, 2017. Choi, the woman at the centre of a corruption scandal that triggered the biggest political crisis for a generation in South Korea, appeared in court on January 5 on fraud charges. / AFP / POOL / Chung Sung-Jun (Photo credit should read CHUNG SUNG-JUN/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 5: Jeong Ho-seong, former secretary for private presidential affairs, appears for his first trial at the Seoul Central District Court on January 5, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. Jeong Ho-seong is key witness in President Park Geun-hye's impeachment trial, who is at the center of possible corruption scandal that has been leading the president's impeachment appeared at the court hearing. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
South Korean Constitutional Court's Chief Judge Park Han-Chul attends a hearing on whether to confirm the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye at the Court in Seoul on January 5, 2017. / AFP / POOL / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters carry portraits of South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye during a protest demanding the impeached President resign immediately in Seoul on January 7, 2017. Hundreds of thousands of protestors returned to the streets of Seoul on January 7, demanding impeached President Park Geun-Hye's immediate removal and the salvaging of a sunken ferry which left more than 300 dead. / AFP / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters walk past a candle-shaped monument during a candle-lit rally calling for South Korean President Park Geun-Hye's immediate departure from her office, in downtown Seoul on December 31, 2016. South Korea sees in the new year with a massive protest calling for an immediate arrest of impeached President Park Geun-Hye. / AFP / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Park Geun-hye addresses a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) at the Chancellery in Berlin March 26, 2014. Red circle is from a light on a TV camera. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 24: Choi Soon-Sil (C), longtime confidante of the South Korean President Park Geun-hye, arrives for questioning into her suspected role in political scandal at the office of the independent counsel on December 24, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea. A South Korean Independent Counsel Team summoned Choi who allegedly exploited her connections with Park to extort money and favors from the country's largest companies and manipulate government affairs from the shadows. (Photo by Kim Min-Hee-Pool/Getty Images)
Portraits of South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye (C) and her aides are set in a mock prison during a rally against the scandal-hit president in central Seoul on December 17, 2016. Tens of thousands of protesters turned out in Seoul for the eighth straight week on December 17, pushing for the swift and permanent removal of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-Hye. / AFP / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 14: Opposition People's Party lawmaker Lee Yong-Joo shows impeached President Park Geun-Hye's three pictures combo taken on May during a parliamentary hearing over the Choi Soon-sil gate probe at the National Assembly on December 14, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea started the third round parliament hearing on the corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-Hye. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
South Korean protesters carry an effigy of President Park Geun-Hye during a rally against the scandal-hit president in central Seoul on December 17, 2016. Tens of thousands of protesters turned out in Seoul for the eighth straight week on December 17, pushing for the swift and permanent removal of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-Hye. / AFP / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Park, 65, is South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office.

Her dismissal followed months of political paralysis and turmoil over the graft scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in jail and facing trial.

The crisis has coincided with rising tension with North Korea and anger from China over the deployment in South Korea of a U.S. missile-defense system.

Park did not appear in court on Friday and she has not made any comment since. She remained in the Blue House, prompting some grumbling from critics keen to see her stripped of the privileges of power.

Her dismissal marked a dramatic fall from grace of South Korea's first woman president and daughter of Cold War military dictator Park Chung-hee.

It was not the first time she has had to leave the Blue House compound of traditional-style buildings at the foot of a hill in central Seoul.

In 1979, after a nine-day funeral following the assassination of her father, the young Park left the Blue House with her siblings for a family home. She had been acting first lady after her mother was shot and killed in an earlier failed assassination attempt on her father.

Now, having lost presidential immunity, she could face criminal charges over bribery, extortion and abuse of power in connection with allegations of conspiring with her friend, Choi Soon-sil.

Both women denied wrongdoing.

'JUSTICE, COMMON SENSE'

Earlier on Sunday, media outside her private home said renovators were at work inside. Television later showed a moving van outside the house and men unloading boxes and furniture.

The liberal politician likely to become the next president, Moon Jae-in, promised to work for justice and common sense.

"We still have a long way to go. We have to make this a country of justice, of common sense through regime change," Moon, who advocates reconciliation with North Korea, told a news conference.

"We all have to work together for a complete victory."

Moon is leading in opinion polls which show South Koreans are likely to throw out the conservatives after nearly a decade in power and turn to a liberal leader.

Moon called on Park to publicly accept the court ruling and warned she should not try to destroy or remove any documents when she left the Blue House.

Park's dismissal have exposed fault lines in a society long divided by Cold War politics.

Thousands of Park's opponents celebrated in Seoul on Saturday, where they have been gathering every weekend for months, and demanded that she be arrested.

The former president's conservative supporters also took to the streets not far away, though fewer in number.

Police were out in force but there was no trouble.

On Friday, two Park supporters were killed as they tried to break through police lines outside the court, shortly after the verdict.

One was believed to have had a heart attack, a hospital official said, and the other died as protesters attacked police buses being used as a barricade. A third protester, a man aged 74, suffered a heart attack and died on Saturday. (Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Stephen Coates and Mark Potter)

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