This is an excerpt from President Moon Jae-in’s New Year press conference. -- Ed.
Q. What is your position on pardons for former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye?
A. I have pondered long on the issue of the pardon as it was considered the most important question today, but I have decided to tell you my thoughts frankly.
Two former presidents being incarcerated is a lamentable situation for the country, and as there are reports of the two being in ill-health, I am concerned for them.
However, I don’t think it is the right time to talk of pardons. The legal procedures have only now been completed, and incredible manipulation of state-affairs and power-linked corruption have been proven to be true, and the damages to the nation were great, and have left deep wounds.
The court has considered the gravity of the situation, and gave severe and heavy punishments. Although pardoning is a presidential right, I don’t think neither the president nor politicians have the right to talk of pardons immediately after the court ruling.
What’s more, the people will not countenance movements calling for pardons on grounds of refuting the court ruling. And I share that view.
However, there are many who supported the former presidents, and who are pained by the current situation. In that regard, I think the stance that national unity should be achieved through pardons should be listened to, and I think that a time will come when the issue should be considered more deeply.
The precondition for that is formation of consensus among the people. If the people do not agree, pardons cannot be a tool for national unity. If severe discord surrounds the pardons, then I think that far from contributing to unity, the pardons will only damage national unity.