South Korea’s president pardoned disgraced former leader Park Geun-hye on Friday, according to the country’s Justice Minister.
"We've included former President Park Geun-hye and former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook to the list to overcome unfortunate past history, realize people's unity and provide a chance to take a new step forward to the future."
Park was South Korea’s first elected leader to be thrown out of office in 2017.
She was brought down after colluding with a friend to use billions of won from major companies to mostly fund a nonprofit foundation.
Current President Moon Jae-in had previously pledged not to pardon her and others convicted of corruption, but opposition supporters and politicians have called for Park’s pardon ahead of the March presidential election, which is neck and neck in recent polls.
Regarding Friday’s pardon, Moon’s office said "I hope this would provide a chance to go beyond differences in thoughts and pros and cons, and open a new era of integration and unity.”
Park's lawyer offered an apology for causing concern to the public and thanked Moon for making a difficult decision.
Opposition lawmakers have said that Park has experienced health problems while in prison.