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Yoon’s jailed mother-in-law excluded from latest parole list

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : April 23, 2024 - 18:22

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Choi Eui-soon, President Yoon Suk Yeol's mother-in-law, center, enters the Uijeongbu District Court, in Northeastern Seoul in July last year. (Yonhap) Choi Eui-soon, President Yoon Suk Yeol's mother-in-law, center, enters the Uijeongbu District Court, in Northeastern Seoul in July last year. (Yonhap)

The Justice Ministry on Tuesday blocked the early release of President Yoon Suk Yeol’s mother-in-law, who has been serving a one-year prison term for forgery, in its latest round of monthly parole reviews, according to officials close to the matter.

Though Choi Eui-soon, the 77-year-old mother of first lady Kim Keon Hee, was excluded from the latest list of inmates to be released early, she will be reconsidered for next month’s review, under the current law.

Following an hours-long monthly review, the ministry’s Probation and Parole Board decided to “hold off” Choi’s parole, rather than “disallowing” it like they did in February. This allows Choi to be included among the list of inmates eligible for parole review next month, while the previous decision in February had led to her exclusion from the subsequent month’s review held in March.

The ministry has yet to release an official statement on its latest decision.

Choi has been incarcerated at the Dongbu Detention Center in Songpa-gu, southern Seoul since July last year, after an appellate court confirmed her one-year prison sentence for falsifying her bank balance certificate to make it appear as though she had deposited 34.9 billion won ($25.4 million) in the account for a land purchase deal, as well as for purchasing property using other people's names.

Korean law states that an inmate becomes eligible for parole when they have served at least one-third of their sentence. However, it is conventional to be allowed a preliminary parole review after serving at least half of one's sentence.

Once cleared for parole by the board, which is chaired by the vice minister of justice, an inmate has to be approved by the justice minister.

Choi is slated to be discharged on July 20 this year if the ministry continues to block her parole.

Since her incarceration, Choi has applied for bail, seeking to stand trial without detention. The Supreme Court later dismissed her bail request and finalized her one-year prison sentence.