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Special pardons expected to include business moguls

President Park Geun-hye is likely to finalize her plan for special pardons in a Cabinet meeting next Thursday to mark the 70th anniversary of Liberation Day, Cheong Wa Dae said, as speculation spread that jailed business moguls are most likely to be included on the list.

“I understand that (the president) is moving in that direction,” said presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook on Thursday. Park had said last month that the pardon would serve as an opportunity to “bring people together in the spirt of Korea’s Liberation Day.”

Chey Tae-won (left) and Kim Seung-yeon (Yonhap)
Chey Tae-won (left) and Kim Seung-yeon (Yonhap)

But Min declined to confirm the scope of the list, particularly whether the president would grant pardons to convicted business tycoons, saying “Cheong Wa Dae cannot confirm (the list) until we reach a point where we issue pardons.”

Despite the lack of confirmation, news reports speculated that Park would grant pardons to Korea’s conglomerate owners such as SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won and Hanwha Group chairman Kim Seung-yeon, among others. Chey and Kim were convicted of illegally using their respective company’s money.

But convicted politicians are reportedly excluded from the list for special pardons, according to Park’s top aide. Rep. Kim Jae-won of the Saenuri Party, who also serves as the president’s special advisor for political affairs, said on Thursday in a media interview that special pardons for politicians are “unlikely.”

“Admittedly, people are not that responsive to the special pardons for businesspeople, but President Park will push ahead with the pardons to jump-start the economy. As for pardons for politicians, however, many people would find it hard to see a rationale for the move,” said Kim.

The Ministry of Justice will work out a draft of the pardon list and finalize it by Monday. Including convicted business leaders, the ministry reportedly seeks to include those convicted of petty crimes such as traffic violations. The number of people enjoying pardons could be more than a million, news reports said.

By Yeo Jun-suk (jasonyeo@heraldcorp.com)
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