| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

South Korean ex-dictator Chun Doo-Hwan dies at 90

South Korean ex-dictator Chun Doo-hwan, who brutally crushed opponents until mass protests forced him out, died on Tuesday, according to a longtime aide.

Min Jeong-ki, a reporter outside the Chun residence, said the former president died at his home in Seoul. He was 90 years old.

He oversaw the country’s economic rise and secured Seoul’s hosting of the 1988 Olympics. He was South Korea’s first president to relinquish power peacefully.

Chun, a general in the South Korean military, took power in a coup following the assassination of strongman Park Chung-hee in 1979.

From 1980 to 1988, he ruled with an iron fist and brutally crushed his opponents.

Chun is still regarded as one of South Korea’s most despised figures.

He is known as the “Butcher of Gwangju” because he ordered his troops to crush an uprising against his rule in the southwestern city.

He was convicted of treason and sentenced to death in 1996, in part because of what happened in Gwangju, but his execution was postponed on appeal, and he was released after a presidential pardon.

The official death or missing toll in Gwangju is around 200 people, but activists believe it could be three times higher.

Chun and other far-right politicians in South Korea called it a “riot.” The former dictator denied any involvement in the uprising’s suppression.

Chun also survived an assassination attempt during his reign.

North Korean agents attempted to kill him during a state visit to Myanmar in 1983 by bombing a memorial ceremony.

Even in his final years, Chun was embroiled in legal wranglings.

Last year, he was found guilty of defamation in connection with the Gwangju uprising.

  • AFP