Lee Jae-yong, heir to the Samsung group and the richest person in South Korea is serving out a 2.5 year sentence in jail. His sentence was handed down earlier this year. Since he’s not appealing the decision, he will serve out the entire sentence in jail.
The only way out for him now is through a pardon granted by the President of South Korea. The momentum has been building gradually over the past couple of months. Many in South Korea are in favor of a pardon for Lee Jae-yong. Now, even US companies are throwing their weight behind the idea.
Samsung is a key partner for the US semiconductor industry
Business leaders in South Korea have been calling on the government to grant a pardon to the Samsung heir. Even Buddhist monks in the country have expressed their support. South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in has said that he remains open to the possibility.
Such a decision will likely have political ramifications. That would be just one of the aspects that the government will consider. A recent poll showing that the majority of South Koreans are in favor of a pardon for Lee Jae-yong should help his chances.
American companies are now urging President Moon Jae-in to pardon Lee Jae-yong. The American Chamber of Commerce feels that the top man at Samsung can help President Joe Biden in his efforts to reduce American dependence on chips produced in foreign countries. The US president has been pushing an ambitious $50 billion plan to revitalize the country’s semiconductor industry. The aim is to make the US self-sufficient in chip production.
A letter by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea to President Moon Jae-in points out that South Korea’s position as a strategic partner to the US would be at risk if Samsung, the biggest chipmaker in the world, wasn’t more fully engaged in supporting their president’s efforts.
Samsung is already one of the biggest investors in the semiconductor industry of the US. It already has a chipmaking factory in Austin and has also selected it as the site for its new $17 billion factory.
The stars seem to be aligning for Lee Jae-yong. Ultimately the decision rests with President Moon Jae-in and he’s keeping his cards pretty close to his chest for now.