by Xinhua Writer Liu Chang
BEIJING, March 10 (Xinhua) -- With South Korea's constitutional court ruling on Friday to uphold the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, her scandal-ridden presidency has come to a disgraceful end.
Yet as she is departing the Blue House, the fallout of her reckless decision to allow the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), a U.S. missile defense system, in South Korea would continue to haunt the country and the wider region.
With Park's ouster, South Korea must hold a presidential election within 60 days, according to the country's election law.
While it may be too early to tell which presidential candidate is going to win, one sure thing is that the future South Korean leader will have no choice but to face one of the most ticklish geopolitical situations in the region's recent memory.
Because of Park's THAAD policy, Seoul has dealt a massive blow to its relationship with Beijing, a consistent and determined advocate for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The THAAD backlash is very likely to usher in an ice age for the two nations' robust economic and trade exchanges.
Perhaps the biggest irony is that, instead of providing more security guarantees to the country, the collaboration between Park's conservative government and Washington on THAAD has actually generated more reasons for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to continue its nuclear ambitions and missile program.
In fact, the largest benefactor of the entire THAAD episode is the United States.
By placing the anti-missile system in China's close neighborhood, Washington can patch up the missing link of its global missile defense system and put a large part of Chinese and Russian territories under convenient surveillance while letting its allies in the region take the risks.
For anyone who is going to preside over South Korea for the next few years, the most urgent and significant question he has to answer is how the new government can handle the severely impaired ties with China, and cope with the entangling security challenges brought about by THAAD.
If South Korea truly wants peace for itself and with its neighbors, as well as tranquility in the region, it should find ways to neutralize THAAD's security threats against China. It should also reconsider its policy on the DPRK, and return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
After all, military coercion and mutual hostilities are like an untamed horse that bolts wildly. The leash has to be kept tight.