© Reuters. Former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan leaves for a courtroom in Seoul, South Korea, August 9, 2021. Yonhap by way of REUTERS
By Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) -Former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan, whose iron-fisted rule of the nation following a 1979 army coup sparked huge democracy protests, died on Tuesday on the age of 90, his former press aide stated.
Chun had a number of myeloma, a blood most cancers which was in remission, and his well being had deteriorated lately, his former press secretary Min Chung-ki instructed reporters. He handed away at his Seoul dwelling early within the morning and his physique was moved to a hospital for a funeral later within the day.
A former army commander, Chun presided over the 1980 Gwangju military bloodbath of pro-democracy demonstrators, against the law for which he was later convicted and obtained a commuted dying sentence.
His dying got here a few month after coup co-conspirator and succeeding President Roh Tae-woo https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/south-koreas-former-president-roh-tae-woo-dies-88-yonhap-2021-10-26, who performed a vital however controversial position within the nation’s troubled transition to democracy, died at age 88.
An aloof, ramrod-straight Chun throughout his mid-Nineteen Nineties trial defended the coup as crucial to save lots of the nation from a political disaster and denied sending troops into Gwangju.
“I’m certain that I might take the identical motion, if the identical state of affairs arose,” Chun instructed the courtroom.
Chun was born on March 6, 1931, in Yulgok-myeon, a poor farming city within the southeastern county of Hapcheon, throughout Japanese rule over Korea.
He joined the army straight out of highschool, working his manner up the ranks till he was appointed a commander in 1979. Taking cost of the investigation into the assassination of President Park Chung-hee that yr, Chun courted key army allies and gained management of South Korea’s intelligence businesses to headline a Dec. 12 coup.
“In entrance of essentially the most highly effective organisations beneath the Park Chung-hee presidency, it stunned me how simply (Chun) gained management over them and the way skilfully he took benefit of the circumstances. Right away he appeared to have grown into an enormous,” Park Jun-kwang, Chun’s subordinate throughout the coup later instructed journalist Cho Gab-je.
Chun’s eight-year rule within the presidential Blue Home was characterised by brutality and political repression. It was, nonetheless, additionally marked by rising financial prosperity.
Chun resigned from workplace amid a nationwide student-led democratic motion in 1987 demanding a direct electoral system.
In 1995, he was charged with mutiny, treason and was arrested after refusing to seem on the prosecutors’ workplace and fleeing to his hometown.
At what native media dubbed the “trial of the century”, he and Roh had been discovered responsible of mutiny, treason and bribery. Of their verdict, judges stated Chun’s rise to energy got here “via unlawful means which inflicted monumental injury on the folks”.
Hundreds of scholars had been believed to have been killed at Gwangju, in keeping with testimonies by survivors, former army officers and investigators.
Roh was given a prolonged jail time period whereas Chun was sentenced to dying. Nevertheless, that was commuted by the Seoul Excessive Court docket in recognition of Chun’s position within the fast-paced financial growth of the Asian “Tiger” financial system and the peaceable switch of the presidency to Roh in 1988.
Each males had been pardoned and free of jail in 1997 by President Kim Younger-sam, in what he referred to as an effort to advertise “nationwide unity.”
An affiliation of survivors’ teams stated at a information convention on Tuesday that it was lamentable that Chun died with out apologising for the coup and Gwangju “bloodbath,” vowing to proceed searching for the reality and “justice of historical past.”
Chun made a number of returns to the highlight. He prompted a nationwide furore in 2003 when he claimed complete belongings of 291,000 received ($245) of money, two canine and a few dwelling home equipment – whereas owing some 220.5 billion received in fines. His 4 kids and different family members had been later discovered to personal massive swaths of land in Seoul and splendid villas in america.
Chun’s household in 2013 vowed to repay the majority of his debt, however his unpaid fines nonetheless totalled some 100 billion received as of final December. Seoul metropolis stated final week that his unpaid taxes exceeded 980 million received.
In 2020, Chun was discovered responsible and obtained an eight-month suspended sentence for defaming a late democracy activist and Catholic priest in his 2017 memoirs. Prosecutors have appealed, and Chun had confronted a trial subsequent week.
Chun had wished to be cremated and buried close to the border with North Korea, however his household would make a closing determination when his youngest son, dwelling in america, arrives, Min stated.
($1 = 1,188.3000 received)