Chun Doo-hwan, ex-South Korean supreme leader, dies at 90

This article is over 6 months old Chun’s son says supreme leader died while on medical leave but democracy advocate calls for investigation Chun Doo-hwan, who ruled South Korea in the 1980s with an…

Chun Doo-hwan, ex-South Korean supreme leader, dies at 90

This article is over 6 months old

Chun’s son says supreme leader died while on medical leave but democracy advocate calls for investigation

Chun Doo-hwan, who ruled South Korea in the 1980s with an iron fist, has died at the age of 90, his son said on Monday.

Chun was accused of gross human rights violations and was impeached by parliament in 1987.

However, after being sent to house arrest, he remained the supreme leader in charge of national security until 2000, and was installed in the office again in 2001.

Chun, then 72, shocked the nation when he issued a pardon for Kim Dae-jung, the Nobel peace prize winner who had brought about the country’s first democratic presidential elections in 1987.

The pardon led to the downfall of the young president, Roh Tae-woo, who was later jailed on corruption charges.

Han Sang-soon, a former presidential candidate and prominent democracy campaigner, called for a thorough investigation into Chun’s death.

“That a former president who was accused of masterminding harsh measures and human rights violations in the post-revolutionary period has not died of natural causes should shock everyone,” Han said.

“It’s incumbent on the presidential office and judicial authorities to look into the case thoroughly, to see how a president can die at 90.”

Reports from supporters of the ousted leader also painted a gloomy picture, with one calling Chun’s death a “political murder”.

The son of Chun, Han Sang-soon, said in a statement that he and his mother were deeply saddened by the news.

“He was always a caring father and the greatest competitor for me and my sisters,” Han said.

Chun was ordained as a chaebol (family business giant) businessman, but was surprisingly appointed to the supreme leader’s office in February 1979.

He would become one of the world’s most infamous dictators within a few years, leading South Korea into an economic tailspin, through a series of inter-Korean wars and an economic crisis.

The ultra-nationalist, who was in power from 1979 until his removal in a 1991 coup, served as a minister of education, culture and sports and as defence minister before being jailed on corruption charges in 2004.

In August 2010, at the age of 88, he was pardoned by then-president Lee Myung-bak after serving about two-thirds of his sentence.

Officials said the prison authorities had discovered no further evidence of his corruption.

In 2002, South Korea’s supreme court sentenced Chun to 22 years in prison for corruption. He was released from jail in 2003.

Chun was home from hospital on Sunday when he suffered a heart attack and a stroke, his son said.

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