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Looks like Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong could get that pardon after all

Samsung vice chairman and heir to the conglomerate Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison earlier this year. While he has fought against the charges in the past, Lee decided not to appeal his imprisonment. This meant that he would serve the entire sentence behind bars.

However, there are now growing calls from within South Korea seeking a pardon for the Samsung boss. The South Korean president has the authority to grant a pardon. It seems that Moon Jae-in, the country’s president, isn’t opposed to the idea.

The South Korean president isn’t opposed to the pardon

Five major lobby groups sent a petition to the Cheong Wa Dae, the official presidential residence, seeking a pardon for Lee Jae-yong. Their contention is that Samsung requires strong leadership if the company and indeed the country is to come out of the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Samsung is South Korea’s leading semiconductor company and one of the largest in the world. Korean business leaders feel that without strong leadership at the top, Samsung and consequently South Korea could lose their spot in the global semiconductor market. Even religious leaders have now started calling on the president to grant Lee a pardon.

Moon agreed during a Q&A session at the Cheong Wa Dae that “The global competition for semiconductors is intensifying and it is true that we need to enhance competitiveness in the chip industry.” However, he pointed out that “fairness, precedents and public sentiment must be considered at the same time.”

Moon has said that he will take into account people’s opinions before deciding whether to grant a pardon. Such decisions tend to have political considerations as well. It would be important for the leaders to ensure that the public sentiment doesn’t turn against the government.

The momentum seems to be favoring Lee Jae-yong so far. Opposition and government lawmakers have both joined the calls for his pardon. Other business leaders and even civil activists are now in its favor. Moon has left the door open as well which is a promising sign for all those in favor of a pardon.

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