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[Newsmaker] Majority of Koreans in favor of Samsung heir parole

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (Yonhap)
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (Yonhap)
A majority of Koreans support the idea of granting parole to Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong on Aug. 15, the nation’s liberation day, a survey showed Monday. His release date is July next year.

More than 66 percent of South Koreans said Lee, head of the nation’s largest conglomerate, should be released early as it would provide a boost to the economy, a nationwide survey conducted by Realmeter on Friday showed. Realmeter interviewed 500 people who were aged 18 or older.

About 30 percent of those polled said Lee should not have preferential treatment and the rest said they do not know.

Opinions in favor of granting him parole were dominant in most age groups.

Eighty percent of people aged 70 and over as well as those in their 60s said they agreed on his early release. Among those in their 50s and 20s, 67.8 percent and 65.2 percent of them, respectively, were also in support.

Reponses from those in their 30s and 40s were divided, with 53.6 percent and 51.6 percent of them, respectively, being in favor.

Opinions were much more pronounced by ideological orientation.

While 90.2 percent of conservatives agreed with a parole, only 39.3 percent of those in progressive groups supported it. Among politically neutral groups, 70.1 percent were in favor.

By party, 93.6 percent of supporters of the nation’s main opposition and conservative People Power Party welcomed a release while 79.6 percent of nonparty supporters were in favor.

On the other hand, 40.5 percent of backers of the ruling Democratic Party supported it.

Lee is currently serving a 2 1/2-year prison term for bribing former South Korean president Park Gyun-hye.

Recently, the Seoul Detention Center included Lee in a list of candidates to undergo a preliminary screening for parole on Aug. 15 Liberation Day. Lee is eligible to be granted parole as he has served more than 60 percent of his prison term.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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