Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who was jailed for corruption, has had his pardon granted. The current president of the country accepted his request.

Al-Jazeera reported that Lee was sentenced to 17 years in prison for corruption. Current South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol issued a pardon for Lee on Tuesday as part of a mass pardon. Such amnesties are declared on national holidays in the East Asian country.

South Korean Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon told reporters that Yoon is a former chief prosecutor. He has issued pardons to over 1,300 people to build national unity through reconciliation, tolerance and consideration.

Yoon earlier this year expressed reservations about Lee remaining in prison for the rest of his sentence. Other high-profile figures also included in the pardon list include former provincial governor Kim Kyong-soo and former finance minister Choi Kyong-hwan.

Lee served as the President of South Korea from 2008 to 2013. In 2018, he was found guilty of bribery and embezzlement.

A former CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Lee delved into the principles behind his business success. He denied the allegations against him. Among the allegations, he accepted bribes from big companies including Samsung and embezzled funds from one of his companies. South Korea’s Supreme Court upheld Lee’s 17-year sentence in October 2020. The lower court sent him back to jail after releasing him on bail.

In June, Lee, 81, was granted parole. Prosecutors then said the former president’s health had deteriorated significantly.

While in power, Lee led South Korea out of the global financial crisis. He then faced criticism for dealing with the economy relatively unscathed but serious tensions with North Korea and a crackdown on critics.

Since South Korea’s democratization in 1987, all but one of the country’s elected former presidents has been convicted of a white-collar crime or had a family member convicted.

Last December, former President Park Geun-hye received a presidential pardon from her successor, Moon Jae-in, after serving more than 20 years in prison on charges of bribery and abuse of power.

In August, Yun announced his first round of pardons since taking office in May to mark the country’s Independence Day. The list includes some prominent South Korean businessmen, including Samsung chairman Lee Jae-yong and former STX Group chairman Kang Duk-soo.

(Dhaka Times / 27 December / SAT)