Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye to be released from prison

South Korea’s former President Park Geun-hye will be released from prison today, after President Moon Jae-in officially announced her special

SeongJoon Cho Bloomberg

Photo: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

South Korea’s former President Park Geun-hye will be released from prison today, after President Moon Jae-in officially announced her special pardon on December 24.

Park had been serving a reduced sentence of 20 years for corruption charges since her impeachment and subsequent arrest in March 2017. The Ministry of Justice cited the 69-year-old’s deteriorating health and the promotion of ‘national unity’ as reasons for Park’s release.

Moon further pardoned former PM Han Myeong-sook, who served under the Roh Moo-hyun administration from 2006 to 2007. Former President Lee Myung-bak, also serving a prison term for corruption charges, was not included in the special amnesty.

With just over two months remaining until the next presidential election, the pardon has divided opinion among both supporters and members of the opposition People’s Power Party (PPP). It has also ignited protests from civic groups.

In the short-term, these pardons could further internally divide the PPP before the election—which President Moon has been accused of, as a pardon for Park previously seemed unlikely.

Leading candidate for the PPP Yoon Suk-yeol has expressed sorrow for his role in Park’s impeachment. However, this suggests an attempt at garnering election support from conservatives who blame him for Park’s downfall.

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