(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in last 5 paras; ADDS photo)
By Park Boram
SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday granted wide-ranging special pardons to former President Lee Myung-bak and a series of high-profile politicians and former officials convicted of corruption and other irregularities during the previous administrations.
Former South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo, a close confidant of former President Moon Jae-in, was also pardoned with about five months left in his prison term, though the pardon fell short of reinstating his rights.
Kim will still be barred from running for public office until December 2027.
The list also included a series of former presidential secretaries convicted in a massive corruption scandal that led to the 2017 ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, such as Park's chief of staff Kim Ki-choon and senior secretaries Cho Yoon-sun and Woo Byung-woo.
"I hope these pardons will serve to unite our national strength," Yoon said during a Cabinet meeting.
The pardons, effective at the beginning of Wednesday, mark the second time Yoon has exercised his clemency power since taking office in May. The first pardons carried out in August benefited Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong and other business tycoons.
The most high-profile beneficiary of the latest pardons is former President Lee.
He has been serving a 17-year prison term for bribery and embezzlement, and the pardon canceled his remaining prison term of about 15 years and about 8.2 billion won (US$6.48 million) of unpaid fines.
Other high-profile beneficiaries include three key presidential secretaries to former President Park, known as the "doorknob trio" -- Ahn Bong-geun, Lee Jae-man and Jeong Ho-seong -- as well as former Finance Minister Choi Kyoung-hwan.
Also included were former National Intelligence Service Directors Nam Jae-joon, Lee Byung-kee and Lee Byong-ho; former senior presidential secretary for political affairs Jun Byung-hun; and Kim Tae-hyo, incumbent first deputy chief of the presidential National Security Office.
A number of former lawmakers from both the conservative and liberal sides were also granted pardons, including Kim Sung-tae and Shin Geh-ryeun.
A total of 1,373 people were pardoned in the latest presidential amnesties.
"The government sought to create an opportunity to muster the unified strength of people for national development and to help the country resolve social conflicts and break out of the past (wrongdoings)," Justice Minister Han said during a press briefing.
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