South Korea pardons disgraced ex-president Park Geun-hye

South Korea has announced a pardon for disgraced ex-leader Park Geun-hye, who was convicted of bribery and abuse of power

South Korea’s ex-president Park Geun-hye has received a pardon, cutting short a jail term of more than 20 years for corruption, the justice minister announced Friday, saying the reprieve was in the interests of national unity.

Park became South Korea’s first woman president in 2013, casting herself in the role of the daughter of the nation, incorruptible and beholden to none.

On Friday, Justice Minister Park Beom-kye told reporters the former leader was included in a list of people receiving “special amnesty”, and was pardoned from “a perspective of national unity”.

Park was hospitalised several times this year, and South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that her poor health was a factor in the decision to grant the pardon.

The resulting public backlash against Park and her conservative party helped propel the left-leaning Moon Jae-in into power.

In January, when the end of Park’s trial process made her legally eligible for a pardon, Moon’s office had said it was “not appropriate” to discuss amnesty at the time.

“This should never happen again.”

South Korean prosecutors said in March this year they had seized the ex-president’s house after she failed to pay a $19 million penalty for corruption.

Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, former army generals who served jail terms in the 1990s for corruption and treason after leaving office, received presidential pardons after serving about two years.

Lee Myung-bak, the only living ex-president aside from Park, is currently serving a prison sentence over corruption.

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