Former South Korean military dictator Chun Doo-hwan dies at age 90

SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Reuters) – Former South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan, whose iron fist rule of the country after a 1979 military coup led to massive democracy protests, died on tuesday at age of 90, are former said press officer.

Chun had multiple myeloma, a blood cancer die in remission, and his health had deteriorated recently, his former Press secretary Min Chung-ki told reporters. He died in are Seoul home early in the morning and his body will be moved to a hospital for a funeral later in day.

AN former military commander, Chun chaired over the massacre of the army of Gwangju in 1980 of pro-democratic protesters, a crime for for which he was later convicted and received a ransom death sentence.

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To be death came about a month after the other former president and his coup comrade Roh Tae-woo, who played a crucial but controversial role in the country’s difficult transition to democracy, died at the age of 88.

An aloof, dead-straight Chun at his trial in the mid-1990s defended the coup as necessary to save the nation from political crisis and denied sending troops to Gwangju.

“I am sure that I would take the same action if the same situation arose,” Chun told the court.

Chun was born on March 6, 1931, in Yulgok-myeon, a poor farming village in the southeastern province of Hapcheon, during Japanese rule over Korea.

He joined the military Straight ahead out of high school, being at work way up the ranks until he was appointed commander in 1979. Taking Charge of the murder investigation of President Park Chung-hee dat year, Chun courted key military allies and got control of South Korean intelligence agencies lead a coup on December 12.

“In front of most powerful organizations under the presidency of Park Chung-hee, it surprised me how easily (Chun) got the control over she and how skillfully he took benefit of the circumstances. In the blink of an eye, he looked like a giant,” Park Jun-kwang, Chun’s subordinate during the coup, later told journalist Cho Gab-je.

Chun’s eight-year rule in the presidential Blue House was marked by brutality and political repression. However, it was also characterized by increasing economic prosperity.

Chun has resigned from office in the midst of a rural student-led democratic movement in 1987 demands a direct election system.

He was indicted in 1995 with mutiny, treason and was arrested after refusing to appear at the prosecutors’ office and flees to his hometown.

at what local? media called the “trial” of the century”, he and co-conspirator and successor to President Roh Tae-Woo . found guilty of mutiny, treason and bribery. In their verdict, judges said Chun’s rise until power came “met illegal substances die inflicted enormous damage” on the people”.

thousands of According to survivor testimonials, students in Gwangju have been murdered, former military agents and detectives.

Roh got a long jail term while Chun was sentenced to: death. However, that was overturned by the Seoul Supreme Court in recognition of Chun’s role in the fast-pace economic development of the Asian “Tiger” economy and the peaceful transfer of the presidency of Roh in 1988.

Both men were forgiven and freed from jail in 1997 by President Kim Young-sam, in what he called an effort to promote”national unit.”

Chun made back several times in the spotlight. He caused An national furore in 2003 when he claimed total assets of 291,000 won ($245) of cash, two dogs and what home household appliances – while he owes about 220.5 billion euros won in Fines. are four children and other relatives were later found own large swaths of land- in Seoul and luxury villas in the United States.

Chun’s family in 2013 promised to pay off the biggest part of to be debt, but his unpaid fines still amounted to some 100 billion won if of Dec 2020.

In 2020 Chun . was found guilty and received a suspended sentence of eight months for defame a late-democratic activist and Catholic priest in his 2017 memoir Prosecutors are in appealed, and Chun had faced a process next week.

($1 = 1,188,3000 won)

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; adaptation by Jane Wardell and Lincoln Feast

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