- Former South Korean dictator Chun Doo-hwan dies at 90 years old.
- The military leader seized power in a coup in 1979 and brutally repressed pro-democracy protests.
- During back-to-back dictatorships, South Koreans suffered massive human rights abuses.
Former South Korean military leader and dictator Chun Doo-hwan seized power in a 1979 coup and brutally quashed pro-democracy protests before going to prison for criminal acts while in office. He died on Tuesday at the age of 90, the Associated Press reported.
Chun, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and blood cancer in recent years, was pronounced dead at his Seoul residence, emergency officials said. Previously, the police had reported that Chun suffered a heart attack while at home.
Who was the former South Korean dictator?
Chun’s rule lasted until 1988. For many South Koreans, it remains a time marked by both severe political repression and rapid social and economic change. Chun’s coup extended the country’s military-backed rule, following the assassination of his mentor and former army general, Park Chung-hee, who had held power since 1961.
During this back-to-back dictatorship, South Koreans suffered massive human rights abuses. However, the country’s economy grew dramatically from the ruins of the 1950–1953 Korean War. Filed under: Former dictator Chun Doo-hwan dies.
Dictator seeking forgiveness?
Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters were killed and tens of thousands were imprisoned during the Chun government in the 1980s. However, some liberalization happened after years of an authoritarian rule. Yielding to public pressure, Chun agreed to hold the first free and direct elections in the country’s history.
Faced with huge criticism after leaving power in 1988, Chun took refuge for two years in a Buddhist temple before being arrested. He was tried for corruption, rebellion, and treason and was sentenced to death. He received a pardon in 1997 in an attempt at national reconciliation. Filed under: Former dictator Chun Doo-hwan dies.
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