The presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae said Friday that the decision to release Samsung’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong from prison on parole was made in the national interest.
“We are well aware of opinions either in favor or against the parole of (Samsung Electronics) Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong. The opinion of people who oppose it is also right,” Park Soo-hyun, senior presidential secretary for public communication, said in a briefing held few hours after Lee was released.
“On the other hand, there are many people expect a role (from Lee) in the semiconductor and vaccine areas, calling for his parole.”
Adding that the decision was made in the national interest, the presidential secretary asked for the public’s understanding.
According to a Cheong Wa Dae official, the announcement reflected President Moon Jae-in’s stance on the decision.
People have called for Lee’s release because they expect him to create a supply chain for semiconductors as a follow to for the South Korea-US summit in May and play a role in securing vaccines amid a shortage, the official said, and the decision to let him walk on parole was in response to such requests.
The official said that Cheong Wa Dae also expects Lee to live up to them, saying that there were no special plans in releasing him from the prison.
Asked about Lee’s parole limiting him to officially take part in business activities, the official made it clear that the parole decision was made by the Ministry of Justice based on law and it will be up to the ministry to decide whether it would grant him exemptions.
The official said the president did not mention anything about not giving the Samsung heir a special pardon.
Earlier in the day, civic groups including the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and Lawyers for a Democratic Society held a press conference in front of Cheong Wa Dae to denounce Lee’s parole.
“We condemn the Moon administration for giving privilege and granting a parole for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae Yong while throwing away the value of justice and fairness,” the group said.
By Kan Hyeong-woo (email@example.com