Seoul, South Korea (Associated Press)-Former South Korean military strongman Chun Doo-hwan seized power in a 1979 coup and brutally suppressed democratic protests. He was then imprisoned for misconduct during his tenure and died on Tuesday. he It’s 90.
Chun’s rule lasted until 1988. For many Koreans, this period was still a period marked by severe political repression and rapid social and economic changes.The army-wide coup expanded the rule of the country backed by the army and assassinated his General Park Jeong-hee, a mentor and army leader who has been in power since the 1960s. During the back-to-back dictatorship, South Koreans suffered severe human rights violations, but the country’s economy grew sharply from the ashes of the Korean War in 1950-53. South Korea It is now the fourth largest economy in Asia.
When he seized power with his military cronies in December 1979, he was a major general in the army.Tanks and troops move in Seoul Less than two months later, after Park Geun-hye was assassinated by his own intelligence director at a late-night cocktail party after the harsh 18-year rule, a coup took place.
He quickly consolidated his power through the bloody suppression of the civil uprising in Gwangju. Government records show that about 200 people died as a result of the crackdown, but activists said the death toll was much higher. The Chun government also imprisoned tens of thousands of people, claiming that it was eradicating social maladies.
The full military court arrested the famous opposition leader Kim Dae-jung and sentenced him to death on suspicion of inciting the Gwangju uprising. After the United States intervened, King’s sentence was commuted and eventually released. King later became president and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his efforts to promote democracy. South Korea And reconciled with its opponent North Korea.
Despite being politically oppressed, South KoreaThe economy boomed during Chun’s tenure. He introduced several liberalization measures, including ending the curfew during the Korean War and relaxing restrictions on overseas travel. South Korea It also won the right to host the 1988 Summer Olympics, which was seen as a celebration of the country’s economic rise.
Many conservatives still regard Park Geun-hye as a hero who lifted the country out of poverty, but for most people, it is a very negative figure, mainly because of the Gwangju repression. Chun never apologized and refused to admit that he supported the order to fire on the demonstrators in Gwangju.
Last month, Qian’s military friends and another former president, Lu Taiyu, who played a key role in the 1979 coup, died at the age of 88. Roh Moo-hyun never directly apologized for the suppression.
“Gwangju is indeed a major pain point in the modern history of our country. Seoul National University professor Jang Seung-Jin said: “Quan Hwa Ro is the only two people who can bring this kind of pain to a historic end. Zhang said that the two leaders died without apologizing and without revealing all the details of the crackdown, which is “very regrettable.”
Zhang added that South Koreans still disagree on the legacy of their past military rulers, partly because what he calls “fake news” about the Gwangju crackdown was fueled by Jun Jun’s refusal to fully acknowledge what happened.
“My only reaction to the news of his death was’Wow, he is finally gone.'” SeoulByun pointed out that people still have a lot of “angry” about “what he did and refused to apologize.”
Although he sought reconciliation with North Korea during his tenure in power, his rule was also undermined by deadly North Korean attacks.
In 1983, the North Korean commando detonated a bomb during a visit to Myanmar, targeting the entire army. All were nearly injured in the attack, resulting in 21 deaths, including several South Korean government ministers. In 1987, North Korean agents bombed a South Korean passenger plane, killing all 115 people on board.
Domestically, public anger at his dictatorship led to a massive street protest in 1987, forcing Quan Jun to accept the amendment of the constitution to introduce direct presidential elections, which was considered South KoreaTransition to democracy
Ruling party candidate Roh Moo-hyun won the fierce competition in December 1987, mainly due to the split between the liberal opposition candidate Kim Dae-jung and his main rival, Kim Yong-sam.
During Roh Moo-hyun’s presidency, in the face of large-scale public criticism, he took refuge in a Buddhist temple for two years. After Roh Moo-hyun stepped down in 1993, Kim Yong-sam became president. As part of the reform movement, Jeon and Roh were on trial. The two former presidents were convicted of treason and treason and corruption due to the coup and the repression in Gwangju. Chun was sentenced to death and Roh was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison.
At the request of then President Kim Dae-jung, Kim Young-sam finally pardoned the two former presidents at the end of 1997. Kim Dae-jung sought greater national reconciliation to revive the economy that was hit by the Asian foreign exchange crisis.
When Roh Moo-hyun passed away on October 26, the public rarely expressed sympathy for him. Famous people paid tribute to the former leader, and the government held a public funeral for him.
Although Roh Moo-hyun never directly apologized for the crackdown, his son went to the Gwangju cemetery many times to mourn the victims and apologized on behalf of his father who was bedridden 10 years before his death.
Presidential spokesperson Park Gyeong-mi expressed condolences to Jun Jun’s family, but added that it was regrettable that the former leader failed to apologize for the Gwangju incident before his death. She said that the Blue House does not intend to send funeral flowers or any official representatives to show respect.
Gwangju’s ruling party member Cho Oseop told reporters on Tuesday that “all should cooperate with the efforts to investigate the truth, express remorse and apologize, not only to the citizens of Gwangju, but to all of us.” “I mean, think about all the bad things he did.”
Associated Press writer Kim Dong Hyung contributed to this report.
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