Seoul, Oct 26 (EFE).- Roh Tae-woo, South Korea’s first democratically president after the end of military rule in the country, died on Tuesday at the age of 88, his office announced.
Roh, who won the presidential elections in December 1987 and governed between 1988 and 1993, had recently been admitted to a hospital due to deteriorating health.
Born in 1932 in Dalseong County in the southeast of the country, he fought in the Korean War (1950-1953) and later graduated from the Korean Military Academy in 1954.
It was at the academy that Roh met Jeong Ho-yong and Chun Doo-hwan, who founded the Hanahoe, an association comprising of military officials from the southeast of the country, which would end up playing an important role in South Korea’s future.
Chun, with the help of Roh and other members of Hanahoe, would end up staging a coup and becoming president of the country after Park Chung-hee, who had ruled South Korea with an iron fist since the early 1960s, was assassinated.
After pro-democracy protests against the military junta led by Chun Doo-hwan spread across the country in 1987, Roh, who had been a minister under Chun, helped in the transition towards democratic elections six months later.
Roh went on to win the elections after defeating the conservative Kim Young-sam and the liberal Kim Dae-jung.
During his presidency, Roh, who oversaw South Korea’s preparations for the 1988 Summer Olympic Games held in Seoul.
He also attempted distance himself from both his military background and his ties with Chun Doo-hwan.
During his tenure, he managed to establish ties with the Communist bloc and pave the way for improved ties with North Korea, while also establishing relations with Moscow in 1990 and Beijing in 1992.
In August 1996, Roh and Chun were convicted of corruption and mutiny for their role in the December 1979 military coup and the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the city of Gwangju in May 1980.
Roh was sentenced to 17 years in prison but was released in December 1997 following a presidential pardon by then-President Kim Young-sam. EFE