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Ex-President Lee visits nat'l cemetery to honor fallen sailors in Cheonan warship sinking

Politics 17:21 March 22, 2023

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Former President Lee Myung-bak visited a national cemetery in the central city of Daejeon on Wednesday to pay respects to sailors killed in North Korea's sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010.

The visit was Lee's first official activity after he was released from prison on a special pardon by President Yoon Suk Yeol in December. The sinking of the warship Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors, happened when Lee was in office, and he pledged to visit the cemetery every year, even after leaving office.

"I will pray for national prosperity and the security of the Republic of Korea while honoring the sacrificial spirit on the front line of freedom," Lee wrote in the visitors' book at the cetetery, about 140 kilometers south of Seoul.

Lee chose the visit to the national cemetery as his first official activity since his pardon to keep his promise to visit the cemetery every year while he is alive, Hong Sang-pyo, Lee's aide and former presidential secretary for press affairs, said.

Lee was put into detention in March 2018 for alleged bribery and embezzlement before the Supreme Court finalized a 17-year prison term in 2020. The special pardon canceled his remaining prison term of roughly 15 years and some 8.2 billion won (US$6.3 million) of unpaid fines.

Former President Lee Myung-bak burns incense at the graveyard of 46 sailors killed aboard South Korean warship Cheonan in an attack by North Korea in 2010, at the national cemetery in Daejeon, 140 kilometers south of Seoul, on March 22, 2023. (Yonhap)

Former President Lee Myung-bak burns incense at the graveyard of 46 sailors killed aboard South Korean warship Cheonan in an attack by North Korea in 2010, at the national cemetery in Daejeon, 140 kilometers south of Seoul, on March 22, 2023. (Yonhap)

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