President Yoon Suk Yeol Tuesday pardoned the 17-year sentence handed down to South Korean ex-President Lee Myung-bak along with another 1,373 South Koreans convicted of corruption and related offenses. Yoon said the amnesties aim to “serve to unite our national strength.”Yonhap News Agency reported the wide-ranging special pardons to include a long list of high-profile politicians and former officials. Included in the pardons are former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Kyoung-soo, a close confidant of former President Moon Jae-in, and former presidential secretaries convicted in a massive corruption scandal that led to the 2017 ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, Park’s chief of staff Kim Ki-choon and senior secretaries Cho Yoon-sun and Woo Byung-woo.The Korean Times reports Kim, who had ambitions of running for office at the next general election, will still be barred from running for public office until May 2028.Former President Lee Myung-bak, the most high-profile detainee to be released, served two years of his 17-year sentence. He still owed 8.2 billion won (US$6.48 million) of unpaid fines. The pardon will cancel both the prison sentence and the unpaid fines.Lee was convicted of taking bribes from big businesses such as Samsung, embezzling funds from a company that he owned and other corruption-related crimes before and during his presidency from 2008 to 2013. The 81-year old was released from prison temporarily in June over health concerns. Lee, who was also the former CEO of 10 companies under Hyundai Group, was once purported to symbolize South Korea’s economic rise as the only president to have come from a business background.The Ministry of Justice created a special committee for the pardons, chaired by Minister Han Dong-hoon, and made up of nine members, including five outside experts. Han said the pardons will right wrongdoings of the past, resolve social conflicts and “create an opportunity to muster the unified strength of people for national development.”

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