The image of South Korean CEOs avoiding jail by appearing in court in wheelchairs has been a bit common but a South Korean judge has decided to start a new trend by remitting convicted embezzler Kim Seung-youn (Hanwha) directly to the jail house. This is the same Chaebol head who illegally gave money to politicians in 2004 and personally beat several bar workers with a pipe, in 2007, after they had jumped on his son, who was drunk at that time.  Mr, Kim received a pardon from President Lee at that time.

Per Choe Sang-hun (article here):

For years, South Korean courts have been perceived as lenient toward businessmen who face corruption charges. Since 1990, the heads of seven of the country’s top 10 family-controlled conglomerates, including the Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee and the Hyundai Automotive chairman Chung Mong-koo, have been sentenced to a combined 22.5 years in prison for crimes including bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion. None of the seven spent more then a few months behind bars. Their sentences were suspended by judges . . . As the country gears up for a presidential election in December, calls for tougher punishment of corruption have become increasingly loud, and the presidential hopefuls have all vowed to rein in the influence of South Korean conglomerates, known as chaebol.

Naturally Saenuri Party leader Lee Hye-hoon commented on this before the judge ruled “As long as we don’t end this wrong practice of pardoning the chaebol heads, it will be as difficult for us to eradicate irregularities and injustice in our society as it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.” (A Jesus quote is always golden and tasty like waffles).

As Mr. Choe points out, this “The first sign of tougher sentences for the South Korean business elite came in February when Lee Ho-jin, the chairman of a relatively minor chaebol called Taekwang Group, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for embezzlement and was immediately jailed.”

Please read Mr. Choe’s article, which is quite rich in content.