Kwak to get out of jail two months early

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Kwak to get out of jail two months early

Kwak No-hyun, an imprisoned former chief of the Seoul Education Office convicted of bribery to the amount of 200 million won ($180,200), will walk out of jail two months before fulfilling his one-year prison term thanks to a parole decision.

The Ministry of Justice reported Monday that Kwak will be released on parole on March 29 as the former education chief has shown good behavior during his imprisonment.

The fact the 58-year-old former professor served over 80 percent of his prison term also contributed to the decision, the ministry said. Kwak is now nearly 10 months into fulfilling his one-year jail term.

The liberal Kwak was taken to prison in September of last year when the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that handed down a one-year prison term on charges of paying 200 million won to his opponent to have him drop out of the race in the June 2010 election. Kwak denied any wrongdoing during the prosecutorial investigation into the scandal.

Though Kwak admitted he paid his liberal rival Park Myoung-gee 200 million won after the election, he claimed it was just a “goodwill gesture” to help him with the campaign expenses incurred during the election campaign in 2010.

An appeals court did not acknowledge Kwak’s claim and sentenced him to one year in prison in April of last year.

During his 27-month-stint as the Seoul education chief, Kwak introduced a number of both liberal and controversial education policies, such as an outright ban on corporal punishment for students and a free school lunch program, pitting the former education chief against the Ministry of Education under the conservative Lee Myung-bak government.

Kwak’s vacancy in the top post for the education office was filled by Moon Yong-lin, the 65-year-old Seoul National University emeritus from the conservative side, who won the Dec. 19 by-elections last year. Moon’s term as superintendent runs until June 2014.

Kong Jung-tack, Kwak’s 79-year-old predecessor, is also currently serving a four-year prison term for accepting kickbacks amounting to 146 million won over four years from 2005 through 2009 while he was the Seoul education chief. He was not granted parole.

By Kang Jin-kyu []
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