Former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was taken to prison Wednesday to begin a 17-year term for bribery and embezzlement after losing an appeal against a lighter sentence.

Lee, in office from 2008 to 2013, was briefly jailed in 2018 after being sentenced to 15 years and fined 13 billion won ($11 million), but was granted bail while he appealed.

He was found guilty of creating slush funds of tens of millions of dollars and accepting bribes from Samsung Electronics in return for a presidential pardon for its chairman, Lee Kun-hee, who was jailed for tax evasion.

At a hearing on Wednesday, Seoul's Central District Court ordered a heavier sentence, saying Lee "did not show a sign of remorse or sense of responsibility" for his wrongdoings.

Former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak
Former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak arriving at court to attend his original trial in 2018 Photo: AFP / Jung Yeon-je

He instead blamed civil servants he worked with and Samsung employees, the court said.

Several South Korean presidents have ended up in prison after leaving office -- often as a result of investigations started by political rivals.

Lee's successor, Park Geun-hye, is currently serving 32 years in jail for bribery and abuse of power after being ousted in 2017 over a nationwide corruption scandal that prompted massive street protests.

Another former leader, Roh Moo-hyun, committed suicide after being questioned in a corruption probe involving his family.

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