This composite image produced by Yonhap News TV shows Park Geun-hye (L) and Lee Myung-bak, two former presidents currently in jail for corruption charges. (Yonhap)
South Koreans were almost evenly divided on the idea of granting pardons to two former presidents currently in prison for corruption charges, a hotly debated topic recently brought up by the ruling party chief, a survey showed Wednesday.
In a one-day survey by Realmeter conducted on 500 voters nationwide on Tuesday, 47.7 percent of respondents said they were in favor of providing amnesty to Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, while 48 percent said they were against the idea. The remaining 4.3 percent said they weren't sure.
The topic was first raised by Rep. Lee Nak-yon, head of the ruling Democratic Party, in an interview with Yonhap News Agency last week. The DP chairman said he will ask President Moon Jae-in "at an appropriate time" to grant pardons to the two former conservative presidents in order to promote national unity, stirring a huge backlash from the party's base supporters.
Lee Myung-bak, who governed the country from 2008-2013, is currently serving a 17-year prison term after being convicted of corruption in November last year, while his successor Park Geun-hye is serving a 20-year prison term after being impeached over far-reaching corruption charges and an influence-peddling scandal.
The Supreme Court's final ruling in Park's case is scheduled for Jan. 14.
Opinions over the pardon debate were divided sharply according to party support. The poll showed that 88.8 percent of DP supporters were against the pardons, while 81.4 percent of those who supported the main opposition People Power Party were in favor.
By age, 68.1 percent of respondents aged 60 or older supported the idea, while those in their 50s were almost evenly split, with 48.2 percent in favor and 48 percent against the pardons.
The disapproval rate was relatively stronger among younger respondents. The proportion of those against the pardons in their 20s, 30s and 40s stood at 51.6 percent, 59.1 percent and 63.7 percent, respectively.
The survey, commissioned by a local news outlet OhmyNews, had a 95 percent confidence level and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. (Yonhap)