Former South Korean president Park Geun-hye was released from prison on Friday (Dec 31) nearly five years after being convicted of corruption, fuelling debate over whether she would play any role ahead of a March presidential election.

Iran PressAsia: Ms. Park, 69, was the country’s first democratically elected leader to be thrown out of office when the Constitutional Court upheld a parliament vote in 2017 to impeach her over a scandal that also led to the imprisonment of the chiefs of two conglomerates, Samsung and Lotte.

South Korea’s top court in January upheld a 20-year prison sentence imposed after Ms. Park was found guilty of colluding with a friend, who is also in jail, to receive tens of billions of won from the companies, mostly to fund her friend’s family and non-profit foundations.

President Moon Jae-in granted a special pardon to Ms. Park last week, citing her deteriorating health and expressing hope to “overcome unfortunate past history and promote national unity”.

Broadcasters showed Ms. Park leaving a Seoul hospital, where she had stayed since last month for medical treatment, after correction officials delivered a letter of pardon at midnight.

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