Surprised? Korean activists oppose Samsung leader’s parole release

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More than 1,000 civic rights and labor protection groups in South Korea have jointly opposed the potential early prison release of Samsung Group chairman Lee Jae-yong. The possibility of his parole has already been the subject of much speculation in the country since last month, leading up to today’s press conference where various activists were advocating against it.

The move, backed by exactly 1,056 activist group and labor unions, was a mostly symbolic gesture trying to draw attention to the circumstances at hand. The circumstances that some consider would be a regression from the 2017 political shift that led to the ousting of the former President Park Geun-hye’s government and Lee’s imprisonment.

Samsung leader’s parole release still not a done deal

Despite the preemptive protests, there’s still no firm indication that Lee might be released from prison early. The speculation from last month mostly rests on his well-established legal circumstances that allow him to request a parole hearing after already completing 60% of his prison sentence.

Assuming Lee’s legal team already requested another review of his case, the chaebol leader could be released as early as August 15th. The media in the Far Eastern country have been reporting on the parole hearing request as a done deal since July. And the prospects of his early release aren’t as universally criticized as today’s press conference would suggest. With that said, some of the ongoing trials concerning a controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates — Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T — could still add to Lee’s prison sentence in the near future.

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