Pardon for South Korean Ex-president Gains Support as Court Auctions Off Her Private Residence

By Lisa Bian
Lisa Bian
Lisa Bian
July 3, 2021 Updated: July 3, 2021

The private house of Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is still serving her sentence, will be auctioned off in August of this year. The court confiscated her private home due to failure to pay fines.

At the beginning of 2021, the court ruled that Park is eligible for a presidential pardon in its final verdict.

However, the current President Moon Jae-in still has reservations about pardoning Park.

The 69-year-old Park Geun-hye was the first female president of South Korea and the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee. Four years ago, she was impeached and arrested due to a political scandal involving “trustees in politics.”

In the final verdict in early 2021, the court sentenced Park to 20 years in prison for political intervention and bribery, plus another two years for intervening in party referrals, totaling a 22-year sentence. At the same time, she received more than 20 billion won (about $17.7 million) in fines and recovery.

Due to failure to pay fines within a specified date, Park’s private house in Seoul was confiscated in March of this year and scheduled to be auctioned off in August. The current value of the private home is 3.16 billion won (about $2.8 million).

Park Geun-Hye is the fourth former president of South Korea to be imprisoned; the three before her were Roh Tae-woo, Chun Doo-hwan, and Lee Myung-bak. Both Park Geun-Hye and Lee Myung-bak are still serving sentences.

Two former presidents Roh Tae-woo and Quan Doo-hwan were pardoned by the then-president while serving their sentences, establishing a precedent. In South Korea, pardons are the unique power of the incumbent president.

At the beginning of this year, Park Geun-Hye was given a final verdict and deemed eligible for pardon. According to a survey done by Realmeter, a polling agency in South Korea, 47.7 percent of respondents supported the pardon while 48 percent opposed it. Since then, there have been calls to Moon Jae-in for the pardoning of Park Geun-Hye to promote national unity.

The South Korean public opinion continues to hear optimistic speculations and rumors of the possibility of the pardon. However, so far, the Moon Jae-in government continues to be reserved on the topic.

Earlier this year, Moon suggests that it was too early to talk about pardons. Besides Park Geun-Hye, he also mentioned Lee Myung-bak’s pardon. Lee was sentenced to 17 years in prison in October of 2020 on charges of corruption.

“Their trial has just ended,” Moon said, “I don’t think it’s the right time to talk about pardons.”

At the Blue House Luncheon in April, Moon stated that two factors must be considered when pardoning former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-Hye. The first is the “consensus among the people,” the second is that “it must be conducive to national unity.”

At a press conference in May, Moon admitted that many people wish for the pardons of former presidents Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak, but many oppose it.

“We must consider important factors such as judicial justice, fairness, and national consensus before making a decision,” Moon added.

In early June, the Presidential Palace stated that “they have yet to discussed [the pardons].”

On June 22, the newly-appointed South Korean Prime Minister Kim Fu-qian repeatedly emphasized that it is up to the people’s consent.

“It is difficult for a president to make a unilateral decision,” he said while encouraging the people to “wait and see.”

Lisa Bian
Lisa Bian