South Korea pardons almost 5,000, including convicted business leader

South Korean President Park Geun Hye has granted amnesty to almost 5,000 convicted criminals - among them the chief-executive of a major conglomerate - to mark the country's Liberation Day on August 15, according to the Yonhap news agency.

The list of 4,876 people in line to be pardoned was finalized on Friday in a cabinet meeting led by Park, the report said.

The pardons have become a tradition in South Korea as part of annual celebrations marking the country's independence from Japanese colonial rule in 1945.

The move has also been known to offer business magnates with criminal records a clean bill of health, sparking some controversy.

"I have been soliciting views from various walks of life [regarding special pardons] to muster up our strength to promote national unity and overcome economic challenges," Park was quoted by Yonhap as saying.

Lee Jay Hyun, the embattled head of food and logistics firm CJ Group, was handed a two-and-a-half-year jail sentence last year for tax fraud and embezzlement.

Lee has reportedly been pardoned on account of his poor health. Other corrupt politicians and business leaders were not being considered for amnesty, the report said.

CJ Group is South Korea's 15th largest conglomerate by assets.

Last update: Fri, 12/08/2016 - 12:22

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