To face the economic crisis…a presidential pardon for the vice president of “Samsung”

South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol has pardoned Jay Wei, vice president of Samsung Electronics. Lee on Friday, and the Justice Department said it was needed to help overcome the “domestic economic crisis.” The pardon is largely symbolic, as Lee is already on parole after serving 18 months in prison for bribery in a scandal that led to mass protests and toppled then-president Park Geun-hye in 2017. But analysts said the pardon should mean the ability to Lee to do business amid fewer legal restrictions, and could open the door to huge investment from Samsung, the world’s largest maker of smartphones and memory chips. “With the urgent need to overcome the domestic economic crisis, we have carefully selected the economic leaders who are driving the national growth engine through active technology investment and job creation to be forgiven,” Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon told a press briefing. South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy and heavily dependent on technology and exports, is reeling from high inflation, weak demand, low sentiment and slow spending. Lee, the heir to the founding family of the giant company, welcomed the decision and pledged to work hard to advance the national economy “by continuing to invest and create job opportunities.” The president also pardoned Lotte Group chairman Shin Dongbin, who was serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence on bribery charges also linked to former President Park. The Lotte Group said in a statement that Shen is also contributing to “overcoming the complex global crisis.” Park herself benefited from a presidential pardon late last year from her successor, Liberal President Moon Jae-in, who has struggled to deliver on campaign pledges to purge corruption in business and politics. A survey conducted last month by four polling organizations showed that 77 percent of respondents favored pardoning the Samsung vice president, despite previous protests. Analysts have long expected Samsung to make decisions on major projects and investments once Lee returns to take over the reins of the company, and company sources said such decisions are in Lee’s hands alone. While business groups, including the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Korean Enterprises, welcomed Lee’s pardon, civil rights groups criticized Yoon’s pardon of the two businessmen. “The Yoon Seok Yeol administration… ultimately aims only to establish a country for the wealthy only,” the People’s Solidarity Organization for Participatory Democracy said in a statement.

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