The government granted a special amnesty to 5,925 prisoners convicted of minor livelihood-related offenses, on the occasion of the Lunar New Year holiday. In addition, some 2.9 million people will be exempt from penalties for traffic offenses and similar misdemeanors.
The pardoned offenders include 2.89 million drivers who were given penalties or had their driving licenses suspended or cancelled. The amnesty also covers 871 prisoners who pose a low risk of re-offending.
The Park Geun-hye administration's first amnesty takes effect on Wednesday. It covers only minor offenders, especially those who were driven by poverty to petty theft and similar small crimes to feed themselves.
But for the first time no politicians or big businesspeople were let off for corruption. Drunk drivers and those convicted of public order offenses were also kept off the list.