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Ex-President Lee; aides to Park, Moon pardoned by Yoon calling unity

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : Dec. 27, 2022 - 15:12

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Ex-President Lee Myung-bak (left) and ex-South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo (Yonhap) Ex-President Lee Myung-bak (left) and ex-South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk-yeol on Tuesday granted special pardons to 1,373 people ahead of the upcoming New Year, including former President Lee Myung-bak and several key political aides to both of his conservative and liberal predecessors, calling the decision an opportunity to "clear up the past” and "unite" the power of the nation.

Among the list, former South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyung-soo was included but without reinstatement. A reinstatement would allow him to work in the public sector or run for office. Several aides to former President Park Geun-hye, including former chief of staff Kim Ki-chun and former senior secretary for civil affairs Woo Byung-woo, were also pardoned.

Of the 1,373 people granted amnesty, nine were politicians, including former President Lee. Sixty-six were public officials, including former governor Kim, said Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon after the Cabinet meeting.

During the meeting, Yoon said he “carefully decided on the subject and scope of the pardon after considering opinions from all walks of life,” adding he hopes this serves as an opportunity to “unite” the national power.

Former President Lee was pardoned and reinstated given his deteriorating health in prison.

In October 2020, Lee was sentenced to 17 years in prison, a fine of 13 billion won ($9.9 million) and an additional penalty of 5.7 billion won for bribery and embezzlement charges related to auto parts maker DAS.

Lee's term was suspended due to treatment of a chronic disease on June 28 this year at a hospital. After the pardon, the remaining sentence of about 15 years and fines were waived.

Former South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim was pardoned without reinstatement. His original sentence expires in May next year, but he will be released as of Tuesday midnight upon the pardon. As he was not reinstated, Kim will not be able to run for election until May 2028.

He was sentenced to two years in prison in July last year on charges of manipulating online opinions in favor of former President Moon Jae-in ahead of the 2017 presidential election.

Among those for special pardon, many figures from the former Park Geun-hye administration were included, such as former chief of staff Kim Ki-chun and former senior secretary for civil affairs Woo Byung-woo.

In 2020, Kim was sentenced to a one-year jail term for illegally supporting conservative groups during the former Park administration. Last year, Woo was sentenced to one year in prison for aiding and abetting illegal inspections during the Park administration.

Other close aides to Park -- Lee Jae-man, Ahn Bong-geun and Jeong Ho-seong -- who were involved in the political scandal that led to Park's impeachment were also pardoned. Ahn was sentenced to two years and six months in prison with a fine of 100 million won and an additional penalty of 13.5 million won for participating in the repayment of the National Intelligence Service's special activity expenses during the Park administration. Former secretary Lee was sentenced to one year and six months in prison, and former secretary Jeong was sentenced to one year and six months with three years of probation.

Reiterating Yoon's remark earlier in the day, Justice Minister Han said the pardon took place to “resolve confrontation and conflict in our society and clear up the past” for the nation's development.