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SKorea announces amnesty for 75 people, including Daewoo Group founder

SKorea announces amnesty for 75 people, including Daewoo Group founder

South Korea announced a New Year's Eve amnesty Monday for 75 politicians and businessmen, including the former chairman of collapsed conglomerate Daewoo Group.
Kim Woo-choong, who was sentenced last year to 8 1/2 years in prison for embezzlement and accounting fraud, was pardoned under the presidential amnesty and was to be released from prison. Others received reduced sentences or had suspended rights restored.
Daewoo collapsed under massive debt following the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, when South Korea's government was forced to accept a US$58 billion (euro39 billion) International Monetary Fund bailout.
Parts of Daewoo were broken up and sold, with Detroit-based General Motors Corp. acquiring a major stake in Daewoo Motor to create GM Daewoo in 2002.
The Justice Ministry said the pardons would take effect Tuesday.
Also among those pardoned were Lim Dong-won and Shin Gunn, the two former chiefs of the country's spy agency. The two were convicted last year of masterminding the illegal tapping of the mobile phones of about 1,800 of South Korea's leading figures.
In 2006, each received a three-year prison term, suspended for four years.
The eavesdropping scandal, which rocked South Korea in 2005, erupted after revelations of a tapped phone conversation between the head of a leading newspaper and a top Samsung Group executive about providing illicit campaign funds to candidates in the 1997 presidential race.
Park Jie-won, former President Kim Dae-jung's closest confidant, regained his civil rights under the amnesty. Park played a key role in arranging the first summit between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 2000. The summit helped the South's Kim win that year's Nobel Peace Prize. But Park was convicted in 2003 on charges he played a leading role in illegally sending money to North Korea ahead of the summit and taking bribes from businesses.
Park had received a pardon in a separate amnesty in February 2007, which allowed him to leave prison.
The ministry also commuted the death sentences for six inmates to life imprisonment.
South Korea issues special presidential amnesties a few times each year to mark major national holidays or anniversaries.


Updated : 2021-04-15 17:00 GMT+08:00