Tenth successive weekend protest against South Korea's president

The constitutional court's first hearing on the impeachment is scheduled for Tuesday.

On Sunday, Park said the decision by South Korea's national pension fund to support a merger of Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T Corporation was "a just policy decision" in the national interest that was supported by many brokerage firms at the time.

The judges said on Friday that Ms Park could not be forced to testify in the impeachment trial during the argument phase set to begin next week.

The number of participants in Saturday night's rally brought the cumulative number of people who have attended the protests since October to 10 million, according to rally organizers. The acting president pledged a return to stability in a message aimed at reassuring the country after a political crisis triggered Ms Park's downfall.

State prosecutors have accused Park of colluding with a long-time confidante to extort money and favours from the country's largest companies and allowing the friend to manipulate her administration.

Speaking at a meeting with reporters at the presidential office, Park addressed power abuse allegations that have fueled demands for her resignation - hundreds of thousands of protesters crowded in Seoul Saturday night for a 10th successive weekend of mass rallies.

"I hope in 2017 we will see our democracy repaired", Lee said.

Park also denied an allegation made by an independent special prosecutor.

Moon was taken into emergency detention on Wednesday on allegations that he pressured the fund to vote in favour of the merger between Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T past year.

Authorities arrested Choi in November for allegedly pressuring South Korean companies to donate to her private foundations and meddling in state affairs, although she has denied the accusations.

Samsung is one of the main companies that gave a combined 77.4 billion won (64 million USA dollars) to two non-profits Choi allegedly controlled and abused to expand her personal wealth.

The professor, Ryu Cheol-gyun, is a famous novelist who in 1997 wrote a story critics saw as glorifying Park's father, slain military dictator Park Chung-hee, whose legacy as a successful economic strategist is marred by violent records of civilian oppression.

  • Jon Douglas