Purposeful pardonPresident Lee Myung-bak decided to grant a special pardon to former Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee before the end of this year. During a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Lee said, “In order to win the bid for the Winter Olympics in 2018 at Pyeongchang, which is making a bid for the third time, sports and business circles as well as Gangwon residents have strongly appealed that [former chairman] Lee’s role as a member of the International Olympic Committee is crucial. I decided to grant a pardon for the sake of national interest.”
The president added that the former chairman should devote himself to furthering the nation’s interests and trying to beef up national competitiveness in the wake of the economic slowdown.
It is an unprecedented occasion for the government to pardon a specific person alone. We believe the president might have had long and serious deliberations before making the judgment. As a businessman, Lee Kun-hee is equipped with management skills that are globally recognized, and he was an influential figure who played a pivotal role in international sports circles when he was a member of the International Olympic Committee. It is not easy to find people equipped with such talent and capabilities.
It is a natural decision for the president to take full advantage of such an important figure for the nation’s best interest. Korea’s business and sports circles as well as Gangwon residents made a collective appeal for a pardon for the same reason. Hosting the Winter Games at Pyeongchang is a great opportunity to elevate Korea’s status in the world after the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. It is right to not only grant pardons but also to do anything necessary to help a figure who is integral to a national project, as that is the way to prosperity.
The bid for the Winter Olympics has gained strength with former Samsung Chairman Lee joining the movement. We look forward to him doing everything in his power to help win the bid to host the Winter Games when his IOC membership is reinstated during the committee’s general meeting in February next year. This is a prime way for Lee to live up to the Korean people’s expectations.