Disgraced former South Korean president Park due to be freed under pardon

Seoul, Dec 30 (EFE).- South Korea’s disgraced former president Park Geun-hye is set to be freed late Thursday under a presidential pardon granted last week by her successor and current leader Moon Jae-in.

Park, 69, is currently being treated in a Seoul hospital for chronic problems of the lower back and shoulder, and other ailments, and there she is scheduled to receive the certificate of pardon early Friday.

Supporters of the former conservative president, who has spent four years and nine months in prison, began to gather Thursday outside the hospital to celebrate. She is expected to remain hospitalized at least until February, according to Yonhap news agency.

Park was impeached in 2017 and later sentenced to 22 years in prison for corruption and abuse of power in a wide-reaching influence-peddling scandal.

Last week, Democrat Moon pardoned Park in his New Year amnesty, arguing the deterioration of the former president’s health and appealing to national unity.

Analysts have offered many takes on the decision, which has angered many liberals in the country.

On one hand, there are those who argue that the pardon is compensation in some way for that granted simultaneously to Democrat Han Myeong-sook, the country’s first female prime minister who was imprisoned between 2015 and 2017 after being convicted – with testimonies that later turned out to be false – of accepting illegal political funds.

There has also been speculation that, three months out from the presidential elections, the Democrats are seeking to underline the need to close wounds and reap the benefit in the polls, expected to be very tight.

Others believe that the release of Park could help conservative candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, who is practically tied in the polls with the other top candidate, Democrat Lee Jae-myung. EFE


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