Lee Jae-hyun, chairman of the CJ Group gave up reappealing prior to a special pardon on the nation’s liberation day which falls on August 15. As Lee’s trial period became prolonged and Lee’s health deteriorated, making his return to management virtually impossible, CJ is now standing at a crossroads of betting the fate of the group on a special pardon less than one month away. The Korean business world is raising voices that a special pardon needs to be given to Lee in order to normalize the CJ Group which has suffered from the absence of its chairman for more than three years.
The CJ Group announced on July 19 via Lee’s lawyer that Lee told the court that he will drop reappeals. The decision naturally finalized two years and six months in imprisonment and a fine of 25.2 billion won that the Seoul High Court sentenced to Lee in December, last year.
“Lee’s health has extremely deteriorated, disabling him from standing trial,” the CJ Group said. “After brooding over the matter for a long time, today, we handed in an application form to drop reappeals to the Supreme Court.”
The CJ Group disclosed some photos of Lee’s body parts in a rare move. The photos showed that the aggravation of Lee’s chronic disease, Charcot Marie Tooth Disease bended his hands and feet so much that he cannot live a normal life and his long fight against the disease made him lose muscles and made them as thin as a rail. In fact, it is said that chairman Lee is unable to do everyday life things such as walking, writing and using chopsticks among other things.
A hereditary disease and complications from a kidney transplant are rapidly worsening the patient’s health,” said Kim Yeon-soo, a medical professor at Seoul National University who takes care of Lee as his personal doctor.” “Various physical indicators have reached serious points. Lee is very mentally unstable such as recently receiving treatments for depression.”
It is known that the CJ Group pondered over dropping reappeals for a long time. This is because if Lee is included in the list of those to be pardoned, he’s sentence should be finalized first. But the reappeal was underway, making it very difficult for the Lee side to make a decision.
The deterioration of health has put him into a quagmire since July 2013 he was arrested and charged with embezzlement, breach of trust allegations. So, as Lee is pinning hope on the upcoming exoneration, it is emerging as the biggest variable whether or not the presidential pardon in commemoration of Korea’s liberation from the Japanese colonial yoke will be granted to the ailing chairman.
Since President Park Geun-hye announced that she will grant pardons in honor of the 71st anniversary of Korea’s restoration of independence on August 15, they have said that those highly likely to receive the pardons this time might be Kim Seung-yun, chairman of the Hanwha Group, Chey Jae-won, a senior vice chairman of the SK Group and Koo Bon-sang, a former vice chairman of LIG Nexone among owners of large companies.