Freedom for 884 Prisoners

Allison Bae , Jan. 26, 2017, 9:35 a.m.

The Justice Ministry on Wednesday said 884 prisoners will be released under a special Lunar New Year's amnesty.

They are mostly petty criminals who committed subsistence crimes and businessmen convicted of small economic offenses. This is the biggest amnesty since June 2009, when 896 were released.

Every month, the Ministry of Justice evaluates prisoners based on the impact of their crimes to society, the remorse they show, and the risk of reoffending. In the last five years, an average of 512 people were paroled every month.

The ministry said the large-scale amnesty comes at the orders of acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn, who wanted it to help bring the country together and help the economy recover.

It includes 49 leaders of small or medium-sized businesses, 27 market traders, 37 farmers or fishermen, 94 petty criminals, and 45 disabled, elderly or sick prisoners. Five prisoners who are in jail with young children or a spouse and two North Korean defectors will also be released.

The ministry said it excluded wealthy individuals, civil servants, and violent and sex offenders.

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