This photo taken on Aug. 25, 2017, shows ousted South Korean leader Park Geun-Hye arriving at a court in Seoul. She was subsequently convicted on corruption charges and jailed.
/ December 26, 2021
Park Geun-Hye, the former conservative South Korean president who was impeached, thrown out of office and jailed in 2017, was pardoned on Friday by leftist South Korean President Moon Jae-In.
Park had maintained her innocence from the moment embezzlement and other charges against her emerged, claiming she was the victim of a political conspiracy. After being sentenced to 22 years, she refused to take part in further judicial processes.
The judiciary brought more charges, taking her sentence to more than three decades, "but never managed to find the funds she supposedly embezzled," the Asia Times noted on Dec. 24
Eventually, the judiciary seized Park's home and auctioned it to pay some of her fines.
Park reportedly suffered a range of health problems during her confinement, part of which was spent in hospital, rather than prison. Those issues were cited as a “very important criterion” for Friday’s pardon.
Park’s fall paved the way for Moon to enter the presidential Blue House in 2017. Moon’s constitutionally mandated single term expires next May, after a presidential election on March 9.
Some analysts are calling Moon's pardon of Park a move of "political irony," that could benefit the left-wing governing party rather than the right-wing opposition in South Korea.
“President Park is a part of South Korea’s biggest political dynasty – like the Kennedys or the Bush family,” Lew Han-Jin, a supporter of Park and a political columnist, told Asia Times.
Lawrence Peck, a Los Angeles-based analyst on pro-North Korean activism in the U.S., said the pardoning of Park could be strategic and could boost Moon politically for the following reasons:
1. He appears compassionate and it helps shed his divisive image with some low information type citizens.
2. He takes an issue away from the conservatives.
3. It distracts and changes the subject away from his granting of early parole to traitor Lee Seok-Ki [see below].
4. It creates confusion and heightens the potential for new divisions within the conservative camp.
5. Lee Jae-Myung [his designated succesor] is thus prevented from having to make the decision, which is a plus for him.
Writing for East Asia Research Center, Taro O noted:
"Understandably, during the impeachment trial, one may have doubted President Park’s innocence when mainstream media continuously aired unsubstantiated claims. Nonetheless, for the past five years, numerous individuals have conducted scrupulous research and investigations over the impeachment proceedings and have written nearly a dozen books on the related matter. And by examining these works, it’s apparent that there’s no direct evidence demonstrating President Park conspired with Choi Seo-Won to acquire bribes.
"The rallies to free Park went on every Saturday and major holidays since late 2016 until the Moon administration stopped rallies, or harassed and jailed partakers, using Coronavirus as an excuse starting in mid-2020. It's an excuse because subways that carry millions of people a day were OK. Also, he allowed demonstrations by the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (labor union), which among other things, demanded the release of Lee Seok-ki, who is in prison for sedition through his organization called Revolutionary Organization, which is dedicated to subverting South Korea and aiding North Korea. In fact, Lee Seok-Ki is being released on Christmas Eve. He has not finished his sentence."
Free Press International