South Korean coup leader Chun Doo-hwan dies at 90

Seoul, Nov 23 (EFE).- Former South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan, a figure widely criticized for seizing power through a military coup and for a bloody crackdown on a civil uprising, died Tuesday morning at the age of 90.

Chun died at his home in Seoul’s Seodaemun district after battling chronic health conditions, Yonhap news agency reported citing aides.

He had myeloma, a blood cancer, which was reportedly in remission.

Born in 1931 in Hapcheon, Chun entered the Korean Military Academy at age 20. There he met figures such as Roh Tae-woo and Jeong Ho-yong, with whom he founded the Hanahoe group, which brought together mainly military officers from the southeast of the country and would end up playing a key role in the future of the nation.

With Chun at the helm, Hanahoe carried out a coup shortly after the assassination of president Park Chung-hee in 1979, which placed him as head of state until 1988.

In 1980, Chun’s junta ordered the bloody crackdown of a pro-democracy civil uprising in the city of Gwangju (260 kilometers south of Seoul) that left at least 200 dead and some 1,800 wounded.

After appointing Roh as his presidential successor, pro-democracy protests swept across the country in June 1987, and Chun’s military junta eventually agreed to hold democratic presidential elections six months later.

Both he and Roh, who would end up winning those elections and would govern until 1993, were convicted in August 1996 of corruption and their roles in the 1979 coup and the repression in Gwangju in 1980.

Chun was sentenced to life in prison, but received a presidential pardon in 1997.

He never apologized nor showed remorse for the Gwangju crackdown, and local media report he is unlikely to be given a state funeral.

Roh died at the end of October, less than a month before Chun. EFE


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