The South Korean Constitutional Court voted unanimously to uphold the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye on Friday, ending a monthslong political scandal that took the nation by storm.
The court's acting chief judge, Lee Jung-mi, said Park had violated the constitution and law "throughout her term".
With an earlier-than-planned presidential election due to take place within the next 60 days - May 9 is deemed a plausible date - support ratings for potential presidential candidates are now topped by Moon Jae-in, former chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea.
Feb 25, 2013: Park is sworn in as the first female president of South Korea, promising an era of hope. One of Park's lawyers even told the court last month that there will be "a rebellion and blood will drench the asphalts" if Park is booted from office, but a criminal court later acquits her of her charges.
Tasked with looking after Park's wardrobe and personal affairs, Choi Soon-sil has been accused of using her influence over Park to force South Korean companies, including Samsung, to contribute about $90 million to two foundations she controlled.
An independent investigator claims the former president was an accomplice to Choi in attempting to extract 43bn won (£30.9m) from the technology giant, saying the two friends "shared economic interests", the Korea Herald reports.
Long Island weather: Winter storm warning for eastern Suffolk
Sunday could be even colder, with a predicted high of 45 degree, a low of 32 degrees and a 70 percent chance of rain. It will be mostly cloudy, with a low of 27, and an east wind of 9 to 11 miles per hour .
A new leader must now be elected within 60 days.
A likely candidate is liberal Moon Jae-In, who lost to Ms Park in 2012 but now leads the polls. China threatens a commercial war after the deployment of the United States anti-missile shield THAAD on South Korean soil: although Seoul and Washington say the system is aimed at preventing attacks from the north, Beijing fears it may also target its territory.
While Park's supporters clashed with police outside the court, elsewhere in the city people welcomed her ouster.
And so now South Korea is in a bit of a pickle. Hereupon, in a unanimous decision by the court panel, we issue a verdict: "We dismiss the defendant, President Park Geun-hye". Park is accused of colluding with her and giving access to sensitive documents.
A productive relationship is expected to prevail for the remaining term of acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, and with whoever is elected as the next president, the USA statement read. "We hope the conservatives (who support Park) will accept it and move forward".
Park becomes South Korea's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office, capping months of paralysis and turmoil over a corruption scandal that also landed the head of the Samsung conglomerate in jail.