Former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan, whose iron-fisted rule of the nation following a 1979 army coup triggered huge democracy protests, has died on the age of 90, his former press aide mentioned.
Chun, whose well being had deteriorated just lately, died at his Seoul dwelling early within the morning, former press secretary Min Chung-ki informed reporters. His physique will likely be 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 acquired a commuted loss of life sentence.
His loss of life got here a couple of month after that of former president and coup comrade Roh Tae-woo, who performed a vital however controversial function within the nation’s troubled transition to democracy.
An aloof, ramrod-straight Chun throughout his mid-Nineties trial defended the coup as needed to avoid wasting the nation from a political disaster and denied sending troops into Gwangju.
“I’m positive that I might take the identical motion, if the identical scenario arose,” Chun informed the courtroom.
Chun was born on March 6, 1931, in Yulgok-myeon, a poor farming city within the southeastern county of Hapcheon, when Korea was a Japanese colony.
He joined the army after college, working his approach up the ranks till he was made 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 guide a December 12 coup.
“In entrance of probably the most highly effective organisations below 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 a large,” Park Jun-kwang, Chun’s subordinate in the course of the coup later informed journalist Cho Gab-je.
Chun’s eight-year rule within the presidential Blue Home was characterised by brutality and political repression, at the same time as financial prosperity grew.
Chun resigned from workplace amid a nationwide student-led name for democracy in 1987.
In 1995, he was charged with mutiny and treason, and was arrested after refusing to look 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 mentioned Chun’s rise to energy got here “by unlawful means which inflicted monumental harm on the folks”.
Hundreds of scholars are believed to have been killed at Gwangju, in response to testimonies by survivors, former army officers and investigators.
Roh was given a prolonged jail time period whereas Chun was sentenced to loss of life. Nonetheless, that was commuted by the Seoul Excessive Court docket in recognition of Chun’s function within the fast-paced financial improvement 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 known as an effort to advertise “nationwide unity”.
Chun made a number of returns to the highlight. He brought about a nationwide furor in 2003 when he claimed whole belongings of 291,000 gained ($245) of money, two canines and a few dwelling home equipment – whereas owing some 220.5 billion gained ($185.6m) in fines. His 4 youngsters and different family members had been later discovered to personal massive swaths of land in Seoul and opulent villas in the US.
Chun’s household in 2013 vowed to repay the majority of his debt, however his unpaid fines nonetheless totalled some 100 billion gained ($84.2m) as of December 2020.
In 2020, Chun was discovered responsible and acquired 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.