Christmas has brought the gift that Park Geun-hye longed for most: the former South Korean president has been pardoned by her successor in office, Moon Jae-in. Park, who held power from 2013 to 2017, was serving a 22-year prison sentence for a massive corruption scandal that rocked the country and led to his impeachment.
The discovery of his involvement in a influence peddling network It sparked mass mobilizations until the National Assembly suspended Park’s duties at the end of 2016. She would later be found guilty of 16 of the 18 charges against her, most of them related to bribery, coercion and abuse of power.
The courts established that Park and Choi Soon-sil, her friend and confidant, had set up a network for the purpose of force large national companies like the technology Samsung to donate large sums of money to foundations run by Choi herself.
For this reason, Park was also indicted for revealing secrets, although she has always maintained her innocence.
Park, 69, has been hospitalized three times this year because of the chronic pain that he suffers in the shoulder and back, one of the reasons that explains the political decision announced today. “We have taken into account Park’s deteriorating health,” Moon said in a statement collected by the national agency ‘Yonhap’.
Park has been one of 3,094 people included in the traditional Presidential Christmas pardon. “We must overcome the pain of the past and move towards a new era,” the president remarked in the official text. Among those rehabilitated are Han Myeong-sook, a former prime minister who is serving two years in prison for bribery; but not former President Lee Myung-bak, with a 17-year sentence also for bribery and embezzlement.
The large payroll of senior officials on that list explains why Park’s case exhausted the patience of South Korean society, fed up with the corruption of political elites and economical. Moon took advantage of this circumstance to lead social discontent and make the fight against corruption one of his greatest assets in the 2017 presidential elections, in which he ended up winning. One of his campaign promises was, however, not to grant pardons to his predecessors.