Former President Park set for release from hospital Thursday
Former President Park Geun-hye is expected to be released from hospital on Thursday and move into a residence in Daegu, her lawyer said on Tuesday.
Park was granted a pardon by outgoing President Moon Jae-in just before Christmas last year while serving a 22-year sentence for her role in a vast corruption scandal that led to her impeachment and removal from office.
According to lawyer Yoo Yeong-ha, the former president is expected to give brief remarks at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday as she leaves Samsung Medical Center in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, where she has been receiving treatment for a chronic illness following her release from prison.
Her deteriorating health after four years and nine months in prison was cited by the Blue House as the reason for Moon’s decision to grant her a pardon.
Park was first admitted to Samsung Medical Center in Nov. 22 while still serving her jail term. According to Yoo, Park has sufficiently recovered while in hospital and was advised to continue treatment at home by medical staff.
Park’s movements since she received a pardon have been closely followed by the media.
Shortly after receiving a pardon, Park issued a brief apology that was delivered by Yoo, who said the former president was “sorry to have caused distress and concern among the people” and “thanked the people for their support and good wishes.”
In that message, Yoo added that Park said she would “focus on getting better so she could directly thank the people in person as soon as possible.”
The former president cast a vote in the 20th presidential election at a polling station near the hospital on March 5, but did not reveal her political views.
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol ran on the ticket of the conservative People Power Party, which is mostly comprised of politicians from the Saenuri Party that Park once led.
Yoon, however, played an instrumental role in Park’s fall from power — first as a prosecutor who led the probe into the National Intelligence Service’s operation to influence public opinion in favor of Park during the 2012 presidential election, which Park won, and later as one of the chief prosecutors of the probe into the corruption scandal which directly led to Park’s impeachment.
That probe uncovered vast corruption by Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil, who used her ties to the president to pressure Samsung to donate money to a foundation she controlled and to her daughter’s dressage career in return for garnering the government’s approval of a smooth succession at the top of the conglomerate.
To date, Park has not commented publicly on Yoon’s election, nor who she voted for in the recent presidential race.
Park plans to take a car to her new residence in her hometown of Daegu, Yoo said, and is expected to deliver additional remarks upon arrival.
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]