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South Korean President Is Still Hesitant About Pardoning Samsung Heir

Lee Jae yong SCMP image 1
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Efforts for Samsung’s heir Lee Jae-yong pardon are still ongoing, but the South Korean president does not appear to have made the decision yet.

According to Reuters, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has recently had a meeting with US president Joe Biden. And now, he has brought together the heads of major Korean companies, including Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and SK, to discuss future business strategies in the country.

But business strategies have not been the only topic of discussion. In recent months, widespread lobbying has begun in South Korea to secure the release of Samsung’s heir Lee Jae-yong. A South Korean court has sentenced him to 2.5 years in prison for bribery.

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Lobbyists argue that Samsung needs Lee Jae-yong to take the company’s helm to stay competitive in global markets and cope with the shortage of semiconductors.

To that end, pressure on the South Korean president has increased. The SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won again suggested the president release Lee Jae-yong from prison. Moreover, even some US companies were asking the South Korean President to pardon Lee Jae-yong.

Lee Jae-yong has a good chance of being pardoned

The South Korean President Moon Jae-in also appears to want to release Samsung’s heir from prison. He is now in the decision-making stage and will probably announce his final opinion in the next few weeks.

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As Moon’s spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee told Reuters, at that meeting, the president said the heads of major Korean companies that he understood the difficulties facing Korean companies, especially in the global semiconductor market.

The South Korean president is now on the razor’s edge. Before being elected in 2017, he had said that he would not pardon any of the economic criminals in the country. But he is now under a lot of pressure to pardon Lee Jae-yong. On the other hand, the failure to pardon Samsung’s heirs may lead to losing the company’s position in the global mobile or semiconductor markets.

The collapse of Samsung will definitely be one of the most catastrophic events for the South Korean economy. Now the president must decide whether to keep his election promises or pardon Samsung’s heir.

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The president must make the final decision. Of course, unlike the directors of Korean companies, it seems that the people of South Korea do not entirely agree with the pardon of Samsung’s heir.

An activist group in South Korea called “People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy” is against the idea. They insist that the pardoning of Lee Jae-yong would “abuse the legal system to justify corporate crimes.”