Seoul, South Korea — Former President Chun Doo-hwan died on Tuesday at the age of 90 after a military coup in 1979.
Former military commander Chun presided over the 1980 massacre of democratic demonstrators by the Gwangju army. He was later convicted of this crime and sentenced to commutation.
Chung died early in the morning at his home in Seoul, and his body was taken to the hospital for a funeral.
He suffers from multiple myeloma, blood cancer in remission, and his health has recently deteriorated, his former spokesman Min Chong-ki told reporters.
President Moon Jae-in’s office expressed his condolences to Mr. Chung’s family, but regretted not revealing the truth and apologizing. A Moon spokeswoman said she had no plans to send flowers or officials to the funeral hall.
Chun’s death was about a month after his successor, Roh Tae-woo, who was a coup conspirator and played a decisive but controversial role in the problematic transition to democratization of the country, died at the age of 88. It happened later.
In a trial in the mid-1990s, straight with a ramrod, Chung defended the coup as needed to save the country from the political crisis and refused to send troops to Gwangju.
“I’m sure I’ll do the same if the same situation happens,” Chun told the court.
Chung was born on March 6, 1931 in Yulgokmyung, a poor rural village in the southeastern part of Hapcheon-gun during the Japanese colonial rule.
He joined the army shortly after graduating from high school and continued to rise in rank until he was appointed commander in 1979. Chung, who was in charge of investigating the assassination of President Park Chung-hee that year, opened a courtroom in a major military ally and gained control. Find the December 12 coup of Korean intelligence.
“In front of the most powerful organizations under President Park Chung-hee, I was surprised at how easily (Chung) ruled them and how well he took advantage of the situation. Park Chung-hee, a subordinate of Chung, later told journalist Cho Gab-jae.
Chun’s eight-year reign at President Blue House was characterized by atrocities and political repression. But it was also characterized by rising economic prosperity.
Mr. Chung resigned in 1987, demanding a direct election system in a national student-led democratic movement.
In 1995, he was charged with treason and treason, refused to appear at the public prosecutor’s office, and was arrested after fleeing to his hometown.
He and President Roh were found guilty of rebellion, rebellion, and bribes, what local media called the “Trial of the Century.” In their verdict, the judge said the rise of Chun’s power was “by illegal means that caused enormous damage to the people.”
Thousands of students were believed to have been killed in Gwangju, according to the testimony of survivors, former army officers, and investigators.
President Roh was sentenced to long-term imprisonment while Mr. Chung was sentenced to death. However, it was commuted by the Seoul High Court in recognition of Chung’s role in the rapid economic development of Asia’s “Tiger” economy and the peaceful transfer of President Roh in 1988.
President Kim Young-sam pardoned both men in 1997 and released them from prison, calling it an effort to promote “national unity.”
A survivor group press conference said at a press conference on Tuesday that it was sad that Mr. Chung died without apologizing for the “genocide” of the coup and Gwangju Uprising and vowed to continue pursuing truth and “justice in history.” rice field.
Chung returned to the spotlight several times. In 2003, he was fined 220.5 billion won for cash of 291,000 won ($ 245), two dogs and total assets of household appliances. His four children and other relatives were later found to own vast lands in Seoul and luxurious villas in the United States.
Chung’s family vowed to repay most of their debt in 2013, but as of December last year, the total unpaid fines amounted to about 100 billion won. The city of Seoul said last week that the unpaid tax exceeded 980 million won.
In 2020, Chun was convicted and sentenced to eight months suspended sentence for defaming late democracy activists and Catholic priests in his 2017 memoirs. The prosecution has appealed and Chung will be tried next week.
Chung wanted to be cremated and buried near the border with North Korea, but Min said the family would make the final decision when the youngest child in the United States arrived.
($ 1 = 1,188.3000 won)
Shin Hyun Hee