Yoon to hold one-on-one meeting with Moon for ‘heart-to-heart’ discussion

SEOUL-- President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol will hold a one-on-one lunch meeting with President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday with no aides in attendance for a "heart-to-heart" discussion, his spokesperson said.

Yoon plans to use the meeting to ask for a special pardon for imprisoned former President Lee Myung-bak, spokesperson Kim Eun-hye told reporters during a press briefing. Lee has been serving a 17-year prison term for embezzlement and bribery.

"The meeting will serve as an occasion where they can hold a heart-to-heart discussion," she said. "President-elect Yoon has long thought that he would ask for a pardon for former President Lee Myung-bak, and we hope this meeting will serve as a chance for national unity and reconciliation."

Multiple sources in Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling bloc said chances are high that Moon will pardon Lee.

"If President-elect Yoon makes the request at tomorrow's luncheon, President Moon will give the impression of accepting it," one source told Yonhap News Agency.

Wednesday's meeting will mark their first since June 2020, when Yoon was prosecutor general.

A range of issues are expected to be on the table, including the presidential transition, coronavirus responses and North Korea.

Cheong Wa Dae also said that Moon and Yoon will hold the luncheon meeting without aides in attendance.

Asked whether the presidential office was discussing a potential pardon for Lee, a senior official at Cheong Wa Dae declined to answer, only saying, "Pardon is the president's intrinsic authority."

Lee Cheol-hee, senior presidential secretary for political affairs, and Yoon's chief of staff Chang Je-won were to hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the agenda of Wednesday's meeting.

Another senior official at Cheong Wa Dae said the presidential office has not discussed a potential pardon for Lee.

If Yoon formally makes a suggestion for pardoning Lee, Cheong Wa Dae will begin discussing the matter, the official said.

The meeting comes a week after Yoon of the conservative People Power Party (PPP) won a tight election by a razor-thin margin. Yoon's election was partly viewed as a referendum on the liberal Moon Jae-in administration.

Yoon served as a top prosecutor under the Moon administration, but their relationship took a downturn when the prosecution under Yoon launched a corruption investigation into Cho Kuk, one of Moon's closest aides and his pick for justice minister.

Yoon joined the PPP last year and became the conservative party's presidential candidate.

Source: Yonhap News Agency