Former South Korean President Out of Hospital

South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye left the hospital Thursday, three months after he was released from prison following a pardon for his role in one of the country’s biggest corruption cases.

Since his pardon last December, 70-year-old Park has been hospitalized at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul for shoulder pain, dental problems and stress, local media said. He has already served a quarter of his 22 prison sentences for abuse of power, bribery, violation of electoral laws.

His release comes less than two months ahead of the inauguration of the country’s new president-elect, Yoon Suk-yeol. Yoon, a conservative figure, is a former attorney general, and he played a key role in convicting Park.

Park was seen smiling as he left the hospital, wearing a navy coat and carrying a wallet. “My health has improved rapidly thanks to your concern,” he told supporters.

Park is the daughter of the late dictator Park Chung-hee, who ruled the country with an iron fist from 1961 to 1979. She became South Korea’s first female president in 2013, positioning herself as the nation’s daughter not beholden to anyone. Less than four years later, he was impeached and ousted.

A corruption scandal has exposed the dark ties between big business and politics in South Korea. Park and his close friend, Choi Soon-sil, are accused of taking bribes from conglomerates, including the owner of Samsung Electronics, in exchange for preferential treatment. [ab/uh]