April 21 (UPI) -- The newly elected mayors of Seoul and Busan have requested President Moon Jae-in pardon former presidents currently serving prison terms on corruption charges.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon of the main opposition People Power Party said at their first meeting with the South Korean leader that they support amnesty for Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak, Seoul Shinmun and Chosun Ilbo reported Wednesday.
"We feel uncomfortable asking you about this," Park told Moon. "But it can be said that former presidents are citizens of the highest order. Leaving them [in prison] weighs on our minds. We hope you reconsider a major united front."
Moon said the imprisonment of Lee and Park is "heartbreaking," and that he had heard their "health is not good."
The president said the consensus of the South Korean people is needed before their release, however.
Lee, who was in office from 2008 to 2013, was serving his 17-year prison sentence at home when South Korea's Supreme Court ordered him back to jail in October.
The ex-president was convicted of embezzling about $31 million from DAS, an auto parts company, between 1994 and 2006. DAS funded a Lee-backed enterprise, and Lee owned DAS through relatives, South Korea's court has said.
Park, the daughter of former South Korean dictator Park Chung Hee, was impeached in 2017 after she allowed an acquaintance, Choi Soon-sil, to interfere in government affairs and extract bribes from major businesses.
A recent poll conducted in the country indicates people are divided over a presidential pardon for Lee and Park.
The survey from local firm RnSearch showed 50.2% of respondents oppose amnesty, while 44.8% said they favor a pardon, News 1 reported Wednesday.
The majority of Koreans in their 60s said they support pardons, while most respondents in their 20s and 40s said they oppose them, according to the report.