(SEOUL, South Korea) — South Korea’s government will grant a special pardon to former President Park Guen-hye, who was in prison on corruption charges.

“From the perspective of national reconciliation, former President Park Geun-hye, who is serving a long-term prison sentence, will be granted a special pardon,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement Friday.

Park had served almost five years of the 22-year prison sentence since March 2017.

“In the case of former President Park, her deteriorating health condition after serving nearly five years was considered,” President Moon Jae-in said in a statement on the special pardon Friday morning, according to South Korea’s presidential office.

 

The presidential office statement also said the pardon was a move to overcome the pain of the past and move on to a new era while asking for a deep understanding from those who disagree with the pardon.

There were split views on Moon’s decision to release the 69-year-old former president.

“I see it as an appropriate amnesty in terms of national unity,” Shin Beom-chul, director of the Center for Diplomacy and Security at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, told ABC News. “Conflicts between the ruling and opposition parties are growing too much, which is also an opportunity to resolve and the state needs to come together.”

On the other hand, civil society organization People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy sent out statements opposing the presidential pardon, claiming it is “far from social integration and an amnesty based on political considerations ahead of the presidential election in March.”

Along with Park, a total of 3,094 people will be released from prison on Dec. 31 as part of Moon’s special pardon.

Park was the first female president of South Korea and became the first democratically elected leader to be thrown out of office in 2017. Back then, the Constitutional Court upheld a parliament vote to impeach her over a corruption scandal that also landed the heads of two conglomerates in jail.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.