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SEOUL: South Korea’s ex-president Park Geun-hye received a pardon on Friday, cutting short a jail term of more than 20 years for corruption with her successor saying he granted it in the interest of national unity.

Park became South Korea’s first woman president in 2013, but less than four years later she was impeached and ousted after a graft scandal sparked huge street protests.

The 69-year-old was serving a 20-year prison sentence for bribery and abuse of power, with another two years after that for election law violations.

“We must overcome the pain of the past and move forward into the new era,” said President Moon Jae-in, who was propelled into power in 2017 following public backlash against Park and her conservative party.

“Considering the many challenges we face, national unity and humble inclusiveness are more urgent than anything else.”

Moon said Park’s deteriorating health after serving almost five years in jail was also a factor in the decision to pardon her.

Park has been hospitalised several times this year. She is currently receiving treatment at a facility in the capital Seoul.

The amnesty will take effect on Dec 31, the justice ministry said.

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