(SEOUL, South Korea) — The South Korean government said Friday it will grant a special pardon to former President Park Geun-hye, who is serving a lengthy prison term for bribery and other crimes.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement that Park’s pardon is aimed at overcoming past divisions and promoting national unity in the face of difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the ministry, Park is among 3094 individuals who will be pardoned Dec. 31.
“We should move into a new era by getting over the pains of the past. It’s time to boldly pull together all our strengths for the future rather than fighting against each other while being preoccupied with the past,” President Moon Jae-in said in a statement.
“In the case of former President Park, we considered the fact that her health condition has deteriorated a lot after serving nearly five years in prison,” he said.
After being fired in the corruption scandal which sparked months of protests, Park was taken into custody and sentenced to imprisonment. Her ouster marked a stunning fall from grace for the country’s first female president and conservative icon.
In January, South Korea’s Supreme Court upheld her 20-year prison term. She could have served a combined 22 years behind bars because she was separately convicted of meddling in her party’s nominations ahead of parliamentary elections in 2016.
Park described herself as an object of political revenge. Since October 2017, she has not been able to attend the trials.
Park Chung-hee is Park’s daughter. In late 2012, she was elected on the back of conservatives. They celebrated her father as a hero for lifting the nation out of poverty and despite his exclusion of civil rights.
In December 2016, lawmakers impeached her and she was officially removed from office in March 2017, following the confirmation by the Constitutional Court.
Among the main charges she faced was collusion with her longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil, to take millions of dollars in bribes and extortion money from some of the country’s largest business groups, including Samsung, while she was in office.
Moon Jaein succeeded her as a Liberal who won an election in a special by-election after she was ousted.