Insisting on right to life, CJ Group chairman Lee Jay-hyun on Tuesday dropped appeals to the Supreme Court and requested the prosecution to postpone his imprisonment citing difficulties of continuing treatments in jail.
"Chairman Lee's health condition has deteriorated to an extreme level that put him in a difficult situation both physically and mentally to continue trials," the group said in a statement. "We have submitted documents to the Supreme Court that he would withdraw appeals today."
In 2014, the chairman and the owner of the nation's food and entertainment giant was found guilty by a lower court of misappropriating 165.7 billion won (S$197 million) in company assets to offshore slush funds and dodging taxes in the process. The upper court Seoul High Court sentenced him to two and a half years in jail and a fine of 25.2 billion won in late last year.
But Lee has requested to delay his imprisonment several times due to suffering from Charcot Marie Tooth Disease, an inherited neurological disorder, and has not served a single day in prison. In 2013, the chairman also received a kidney transplant.
In a rare move, CJ Group disclosed medical records and pictures of the chairman's hands and foot bowed as a result of the disease that causes deformity of the body parts.
"Chairman Lee is finding it difficult to pursue a normal life such as walking, writing and using chop sticks. He has been also suffering from an extreme level of insecurity and depression," the group said.
"As a man before being the head of the group, we desperately want him to be granted with the right to life and medical treatment."
By withdrawing the appeals, Lee is no longer entitled to request the top court to review the two and a half year sentence already ruled by the lower court.
But the group is pinning hopes for President Park Geun-hye to consider granting him a special pardon next month, ahead of Aug. 15 Liberation Day.
Under the law, South Korean presidents can give clemency without seeking parliamentary endorsement. They have been granting presidential pardons ahead of national holidays.
To be on the candidate list, Lee has to drop appeals and accept the court's ruling.
If without the president's pardon, Lee has to either serve his term or ask the prosecution to delay his jail time again.