SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- The government was set to issue special presidential pardons Friday on the occasion of next week's Liberation Day anniversary amid widespread speculation that Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong will be among the beneficiaries.
Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon will announce the pardons, which will be the first since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office, after the Cabinet endorses the list during an extraordinary meeting to be presided over by Yoon, officials said.
The most talked-about possible beneficiaries include Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics Lee.
Lee was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in a bribery case involving former President Park Geun-hye and released on parole in August last year. His prison term officially ended on July 29, but he still needs a pardon to be free of post-prison restrictions and have all his rights reinstated.
Also expected to benefit from the special pardons is Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, who was sentenced to a suspended 2 1/2-year prison term in October 2018 in a similar bribery case involving former President Park.
Former President Lee Myung-bak had initially been widely expected to benefit from the pardons but was reportedly ruled out, as Yoon's approval ratings have fallen to unusually low levels and pardoning the unpopular former president could worsen his standing.
The 81-year-old former president has been out of prison since June after a court granted a three-month suspension of his prison term over health issues.
In South Korea, presidents usually grant special pardons in commemoration of major national holidays, with leaders of top conglomerates, known as "chaebol," often becoming beneficiaries on the grounds that their return to management will help boost the domestic economy.
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