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South Korea pardons former President Park, dishonored

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Park Kyung-mi, a spokesman for the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential office, said President Moon Jae-in considered former President Park’s health worse when he decided to grant a special pardon.

In 2017, Park became the first democratically elected leader in the country dismissed by force of office after the country’s Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary vote to dismiss her on charges of corruption and cronyism.
She was found guilty of multiple charges of abuse of power, bribery and coercion in 2018 and sentenced to 24 years in prison – later reduced to 20 years after a new trial. These charges related to a massive case of influence peddling that seized South Korea, sparked widespread protests, turned the country’s politics upside down and involved some of its most powerful figures.
In January of this year, South Korea the highest court confirmed Park reduces his prison sentence to 20 years. He was also facing an additional two-year sentence for a 2018 sentence for meddling in the nomination of candidates in the Conservative political party he previously led.

Park, 69, underwent shoulder surgery in 2019 while serving his prison sentence, according to the Justice Department. The local media had seen him several times going to the hospital in a wheelchair.

The Blue House spokesman added that Moon hopes Park’s pardon will become an opportunity to usher in a new era of unity and harmony and called for understanding from those opposed to the decision.

Justice Minister Park Beom-kye said in a briefing that the pardon would be an opportunity to bring together the Korean people to overcome the national crisis caused by the pandemic and move forward into the future.

Park, who has served about four years and eight months in prison, will be released on December 31.

Corruption scandal in South Korea

The daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee, Park Geun-hye became South Korea’s first female president when she came to power in 2013, but her term was marred by controversy.

The 2017 vote to oust Park came after millions of South Koreans took to the streets for a period of several months to demand his expulsion, following revelations of undue influence by his adviser and confidant, Choi Soon- sil, daughter of a cult. leader.

Shortly after Park was stripped of her office, she was arrested and tried to bribe the country’s major conglomerates, including Samsung. In 2018, she was tried on separate charges of receiving illicit funds from the National Intelligence Service.

Several others were also involved in the scandal. In 2018, Park’s confidant, Choi, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on 18 charges including abuse of power, coercion, fraud and bribery, and fined $ 16.6 million.

In 2017, Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong he was found guilty of bribery and other corruption charges and sentenced to five years in prison. Following a new trial, the Seoul High Court sentenced Lee to two and a half years behind bars. He was released on parole in August.

CNN’s Jake Kwon and Julia Hollingsworth contributed to the report.

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