Photo: Pardoned former president Lee Myung-bak gives a press conference. Credit: Newsis.
President Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 대통령 issued year-end pardons to former president Lee Myung-bak 이명박 and virtually all Park Geun-hye 박근혜 administration officials imprisoned for corruption and abuse of power. Lee had served 20 months out of his 17-year sentence for bribery and embezzlement.
Also pardoned were former presidential chief of staff Kim Gi-chun 김기춘 전 대통령 비서실장 and former Culture Minister Jo Yun-seon 조윤선 전 문화부장관, who were imprisoned for blacklisting liberal celebrities and illegally subsidizing conservative civic groups. As a prosecutor, Yoon was among the special prosecution team that tried Kim and Jo.
Former spy chief Won Se-hun 원세훈, imprisoned for election interference and embezzlement of National Intelligence Service 국가정보원 special activity funds, some of which flowed to the Asia-Pacific Research Center of Stanford University, received a reduction of his sentence. Yoon also expunged the criminal record of his Deputy National Security Advisor Kim Tae-hyo 김태효 국가안보실 차장, who was convicted for leaking classified military information as an aide for Lee Myung-bak in 2012. In all, 75 former politicians and officials, mostly from the Lee and Park administrations, either were pardoned or had their criminal records expunged.
One of the few liberals to be pardoned was Kim Gyeong-su 김경수, the former governor of Gyeongsangnam-do Province 전 경상남도 지사 convicted for conspiring to post fake internet comments to influence the 2017 presidential election. Kim is an influential figure among many Democratic Party 민주당 supporters, who believe he was one of the first victims of the politically motivated prosecutions that ultimately elevated Yoon to the presidency. Kim said: “I received a gift that I never wanted. I am not thankful for it, but I can’t send it back.”