Today’s seemingly obsessive fears over accountability and conflicts of interest have proven themselves well-grounded. Inaugurated in 2012, former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached just last year and sentenced to 24 years in prison for abuse of power, bribery, coercion, and leaking government secrets. Alongside her co-conspirator and shamanic counselor Choi Soon-sil, Park’s impeachment as the first female president and daughter of dictator Park Chung-hee has dealt a crippling blow to both the women’s rights movements and South Korea’s Saenuri party. On the other hand, it may herald a new era of governmental reformation.

Park was raised under the unforgiving oversight of Park Chung-hee, who gained notoriety as a “Cold War conservative” after seizing the Korean government via military coup in the 1960s. As the daughter and public face of the ruthless Chung-hee, Park was often ostracized by her peers and immersed into the political scene at an early age. After political dissenters murdered both her father and mother, support for Park came not from her close friends and classmates but from tactful mentors and advisors instead, including Choi Tae-min, leader of the religious group Yongsae-gyo.

Amid other modern-day cults, like Scientology and Heaven’s Gate, no other organization has matched the impact of Yongsae-gyo, better known as the Church of Eternal Life. An odd combination of Buddhism, Christianity, and Korean Shamanism, this seemingly innocuous cult viciously wrapped its claws around Park after her impeachment. Even Park’s tyrannical father once scrutinized the obscure relationship and blatant corruption between her and Choi Tae-min. However, these outcries have only entered media limelight in the past year.

As early as 1977, Choi’s daughter, Choi Soon-sil, became an intimate confidant to President Park. Choi, a shamanic counselor without security clearance, had extensive access to the innermost political affairs. She was reported to have edited many of Park’s sensitive proposals and to have used her status with Park to strongarm corporate titans into contributing to her personal charities, including contributions from industry mammoths Hyundai and Samsung.

Choi has grossed over $69 million USD. This blatant corruption gained public exposure in 2016 when prosecutors raided foundation headquarters to discover extensive evidence detailing Choi’s misdemeanors. Since then, whistleblowers have spoken out against Choi and Park. A former employee of Choi’s charities commented on the extent of Choi’s puppeteering, saying, “there was nothing the president could decide alone.” With her approval ratings dipping to just about four percent, Park was condemned by the public as massive protests rallied to demand her impeachment.

As such, Park’s indictment on December 9, 2016 was to be expected. Sentenced to 24 years in jail, Park was immediately replaced by liberal party-leader Moon Jae-in, who ran on a platform prioritizing a clean government. Park’s impeachment has turned into ammunition for other political movements as well, including the condemnation of women’s rights and feminist movements. With women making up only 17% of politicians in the National Assembly, South Korea’s patriarchal roots snapped back with the failure of President Park. Referred to as an “object of shame,” Park became the figurehead for women in politics. Dissenters like activist Yun Sun state, “these female leaders are not self-made. They all came from a political family.” The civilian populace does not see Park as her own person, but as mere continuation of her father’s dictatorship. Additionally, Park’s persecution has delivered yet another blow to the already-rocky South Korean government. Plagued with an extensive history of military coups, assassinations, and underhanded motives, the South Korean government has one of the highest concentrations of civilian-skepticism. Especially as South Korea is a buffer to North Korea, the government’s instability cannot continue.

The South Korean government has failed to meet its obligation to administer for its citizens. Whether it be by a revised checks-and-balances system or a complete governmental overturn, it is now up to the citizens to stand up and demand action. Just as crowds of protesting citizens removed Park Geun-hye from power, civilian activism can direct South Korea towards a brighter future.