South Korea's President Park Geun-hye pardoned a tycoon who heads the country's third-largest business group.

The justice ministry said in a statement Thursday that SK Group's Chey Tae-won will be among some 6,500 people to be released from prison before the 70th anniversary Saturday of Korea's liberation from Japan's colonial occupation.

It said the government decided on pardons for 14 business people including Chey based on their contributions to the national economy.

Chey was serving a 4-year prison term that began in January 2013 after being found guilty of embezzling company funds to trade financial products. He remained chairman of SK Group while in prison.

It is the first time that Park has pardoned the head of a chaebol, as big family-controlled business groups are known.