Seoul: President Moon Jae-in of South Korea announced on Friday that he has issued a special pardon to former President Park Geun-hye, who is presently serving a 22-year jail sentence for corruption, in order to promote national unity and take into account her failing health.
Moon decided to pardon Park and exonerate former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook because there is a "desperate need for national unity and modest inclusivity," according to presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee. "It was taken into account in the instance of ex-President Park that her health had deteriorated significantly because she had spent almost five years of her sentence," Moon was quoted as saying by the spokeswoman.
Moon had ruled out the prospect of pardoning the previous leader, thus his decision was unexpected. Park, 69, was hospitalised three times this year due to chronic shoulder and lower back pain. She underwent shoulder surgery in 2019.
Park has been in prison for a total of 22 years since being impeached and ousted from office in March 2017 on charges of widespread corruption and influence peddling. Park has commanded the support of voters in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, a bastion of the main opposition People Power Party. Granting a pardon to the former President is expected to have a big impact on the next presidential election on March 9, 2022.