South Koreans march close to presidential Blue House demanding Park resign

People chant slogans during a protest calling for South Korean President Park Geun-hye to step down in central Seoul, South Korea, December 3, 2016. The signs read: 'Arrest Park Geun-hye'.REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A protest in the South Korean capital of Seoul has drawn hundreds of thousands out against scandal-hit President Park Geun-hye. 

The protest came close to the presidential Blue House as those taking part demanded her immediate resignation over allegations of abusing her power.  

Park has made three public apologies, although she has denied wrongdoing over allegations that she colluded with a friend to put pressure on conglomerates to give money to foundations established to promote her policy initiatives.

Three opposition parties introduced a bill signed by 171 members of the assembly for parliament to impeach Park.  If the bill succeeds, it would make Park the first democratically elected leader to leave office early in disgrace.

The bill comes amid weeks of protests and says Park has violated the constitution and criminal law by abusing her power.

A vote on impeachment is to be held on December 9.  It would need the support of 28 members of Park's Saenuri Party to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass the bill.  It was not clear whether enough Saenuri members would support the vote.

Rally organisers claim Saturday's protest was joined by 500,000 people although the police have declined to give an official figure.

Signs held by the crowd read "Arrest Park Geun-hye" but the protest rally passed off peacefully.  Those present on Saturday were a mix of young and old, with stalls selling electric candles, selfie sticks, snacks and heating pads.

"It's a national disgrace that she's still in that position. She should have already stepped down," said Kim Jae-hwa, a 43-year-old mother from Seoul, who attended the rally with two adolescent daughters.

"I felt it was important for their education to see what democracy is," Kim added.