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World South Korea's ex-dictator Chun: the 'Butcher of Gwangju'

05:55  23 november  2021
05:55  23 november  2021 Source:   afp.com

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

  Former South Korean military dictator Chun Doo-hwan dies at 90 Chun presided over the 1980 Gwangju army massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators, a crime he was later convicted for.Chun, whose health had deteriorated recently, died at his Seoul home early in the morning, former press secretary Min Chung-ki told reporters. His body will be moved to a hospital for a funeral later in the day.

Seoul (AFP) – South Korean dictator Chun Doo-hwan brutally crushed opponents until mass demonstrations forced him out, and remains among the country' s most reviled figures despite being its first president to hand over power peacefully. Chun -- who died aged 90 on Tuesday, according to media reports -- is known as the " Butcher of Gwangju " for ordering troops to put down a 1980 uprising against his rule in the southwestern city. It was one of the actions that saw him later condemned to death for treason.

Chun Doo-hwan, Ex -Military Dictator in South Korea , Dies at 90. The country’ s most vilified former military dictator , he seized power in a coup and ruled his country with an iron fist for most of the 1980 s . In 1996, eight years after he left office, Mr. Chun was sentenced to death on sedition and mutiny charges stemming from his role in the 1979 coup that brought him to power and the massacre of demonstrators at the southwestern city of Gwangju the following year. But he was pardoned in 1997 in a gesture of reconciliation, shortly after Kim Dae-jung, a former dissident whom Mr. Chun ’ s military

South Korean dictator Chun Doo-hwan brutally crushed opponents until mass demonstrations forced him out, and remains among the country's most reviled figures despite being its first president to hand over power peacefully.

Former dictator Chun Doo-Hwan (C) is among South Korea's most reviled figures © KIM JAE-HWAN Former dictator Chun Doo-Hwan (C) is among South Korea's most reviled figures Chun is known as the 'Butcher of Gwangju' for ordering troops to put down an uprising against his rule in the southwestern city © Ed JONES Chun is known as the 'Butcher of Gwangju' for ordering troops to put down an uprising against his rule in the southwestern city

Chun -- who died aged 90 on Tuesday, according to media reports -- is known as the "Butcher of Gwangju" for ordering troops to put down a 1980 uprising against his rule in the southwestern city.

South Korea Death of the former dictator Chun Doo-Hwan

 South Korea Death of the former dictator Chun Doo-Hwan Coree-du-Sud-Chun: South Korea Death of the former dictator Chun Doo-Hwan © Reuters / Yonhap News Agency South Korea -Decos of the former dictator Chun Doo-Hwan Seoul (Reuters) - Former South Korean President Chun Doo-Hwan, who reigned an iron hand over the country following the 1979 military putsch, Caring a vast protest movement, died Tuesday at the age of 90, reported the Yonhap news agency. He died at his home in the capital Seoul after having suffered blood cancer, Yonhap said.

Chun Doo-hwan, South Korea ’ s most vilified former military dictator , who seized power in a coup and ruled his country with an iron fist for most of the 1980s, dispatching paratroopers and armored vehicles to mow down hundreds of pro-democracy protesters, died on Tuesday at his home in Seoul. In 1996, eight years after he left office, Mr. Chun was sentenced to death on sedition and mutiny charges stemming from his role in the 1979 coup that brought him to power and the massacre of demonstrators at the southwestern city of Gwangju the following year. But he was pardoned in 1997 in a gesture of

Former South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan arrived in the regional city of Gwangju today to attend a libel trial over his controversial memoirs, in which he allegedly defamed victims of his brutal crackdown on a 1980 pro-democracy uprising. The 88-year-old, who led an authoritarian government from 1980-1988, is due to appear at the 2:30 p.m. hearing at the Gwangju District Court, about 330 kilometers southwest of Seoul. It marks another court appearance by the disgraced ex -leader in more than two decades after he stood a criminal trial on treason and other charges in 1997, Yonhap reports.

South Korean president Chun Doo-Hwan brutally crushed opponents during his rule in the 1980s until mass demonstrations forced him out © POOL South Korean president Chun Doo-Hwan brutally crushed opponents during his rule in the 1980s until mass demonstrations forced him out

It was one of the actions that saw him later condemned to death for treason.

But Chun never faced the gallows -- the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on appeal, followed by a presidential pardon.

Chun presided over growing prosperity for South Korea and secured the 1988 Olympics for Seoul, but the verdict of history has been stark.

And the US backing he enjoyed as the Cold War entered its final years -- with Washington fearing instability in a strategically important ally -- reinforced a distrust of America among Korean liberals that endures among some to this day.

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Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul. By Lee Suh-yoon. Former President Chun Doo-hwan was forced to show up at a courtroom in Gwangju , Monday, for a hearing in a libel case brought against him. Although the Gwangju court held its first hearing for the case last August, Chun refused to appear, claiming he was suffering from Alzheimer' s disease and thus was unable to properly answer questions in court due to his deteriorating memory. The court again called him in January for a second hearing but Chun said he could not attend because of flu.

Former South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan pictured on December 30, 1997. Photo: Reuters. A former military commander, Chun presided over the 1980 Gwangju army massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators, a crime for which he was later convicted and received a commuted death sentence.

The reign of South Korean ex-president Chun Doo-Hwan (C) was marked by the widespread use of torture against dissidents and the stifling of freedom of expression © KIM JAE-HWAN The reign of South Korean ex-president Chun Doo-Hwan (C) was marked by the widespread use of torture against dissidents and the stifling of freedom of expression

Chun's path to power was soaked in the blood of his patron, military strongman Park Chung-hee.

Born in 1931, Chun entered the military academy for officer training at the height of the Korean War.

He rose up the military ranks under Park, who seized power in a 1961 coup.

Park's rule came to an abrupt end when he was assassinated by his intelligence chief in 1979, creating a power vacuum.

Chun took control of the investigation into the killing, and two months later launched a surprise military coup of his own, effectively taking control of South Korea.

- Gwangju uprising -

Within months, thousands of residents and students mounted protests in Gwangju against the rule of Chun, who declared martial law and after 10 days put down the demonstrations in a bloodbath.

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Since the Korean War, South Korea has been under bad leaders, including strongmen. Among many leaders, the former dictator Chun Doo-hwan was one of the worst presidents that South Korea has ever had. He seized power in a coup d’état, killing many citizens during pro-democracy protests in the 1980 s . Small wonder then that most South Koreans , citizens of Gwangju in particular, are still frustrated by his atrocities. Four decades have passed since the Gwangju uprising, the former army general, however, is unashamedly denying his atrocities, such as treason and mass murder.

Former South Korean dictator Chun Doo-hwan went on trial Monday for defaming an activist priest who documented a brutal crackdown by his troops on pro-democracy demonstrators. Some far-right conservatives in South Korea continue to condemn the Gwangju uprising as a Communist-inspired rebellion, while liberal President Moon Jae-in has reopened investigations into the military' s actions. Chun seized power in a military coup in 1979 and ruled South Korea with an iron fist until 1988, stepping down after mass demonstrations forced him to agree to the restoration of democracy.

Around 200 people were left dead or missing according to official figures, but activists say the toll may have been three times as many.

The episode became a symbol of the struggle for democracy in South Korea.

Chun and far-right political figures dismissed it as a "riot" triggered by North Korea sympathisers.

"The Gwangju incident was kind of a riot with people carrying guns. Therefore, we had no choice but to have martial law troops put them down," an unapologetic Chun said in a 2003 interview.

His eight-year reign was marked by the widespread use of torture against dissidents and the stifling of freedom of expression.

While in power, he also survived a North Korean assassination attempt.

During a state visit to Myanmar in 1983, agents tried to kill him by bombing a ceremony at a memorial to Aung San -- the assassinated Burmese independence hero and father of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The dead included Chun's foreign minister and top economic advisor, but the target was left unscathed -- he had been delayed by traffic and was not even present.

Widespread public protests against Chun in 1987 were on such a scale that he had no choice but to accept the restoration of democracy.

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He stepped down the following year after his longtime friend and ally Roh Tae-woo, a military academy classmate, won the election.

- Court battles -

After longtime opposition leader Kim Young-sam was elected president in 1993, Chun was charged with treason over the 1979 coup, Gwangju and other offences, and also bribery.

He was convicted and condemned to hang.

Chun appealed successfully against the penalty, and was later pardoned at the suggestion of incoming next president Kim Dae-jung, who had himself been sentenced to death under Chun's rule.

During his trial, Chun said the case was "politically motivated" and defended his coup and tenure as president.

"I did my best to save the country when it was facing an imminent danger," he said.

Chun denied any direct involvement in the suppression of the Gwangju uprising.

He was mired in court battles until his final years.

Chun was found guilty last year of defaming a dead priest who had repeatedly testified that helicopters opened fire on civilians in Gwangju.

Chun got a suspended eight-month sentence, and was spared a return to prison.

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South Korea raises rates to tackle inflation .
It is the latest such move as soaring prices threaten to destabilise the post-pandemic recovery.The Bank of Korea's quarter of a percentage point hike to 1% was widely expected by economists.

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