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Chun Doo-hwan’s Case Ended with his Death

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On November 23, 2021, Chun Doo-hwan, the most popularly disliked former president of the Republic of Korea, passed away as President of the so-called Fifth Republic from 1980 to 1988.

Born in 1931 to a poor peasant family, Chun Doo-hwan entered the military academy in 1951. At the academy, he became friends with Roh Tae-woo, who later became his right-hand man.

In 1961, Captain Chun Doo-hwan led a rally of military academy cadets in support of Park Chung-hee’s rise to power, and in 1979 he became head of military intelligence. Park Chung-hee was assassinated in October 1979, and on December 12, 1979, Chun Doo-hwan staged a military coup, imposed martial law, and became the country’s de facto leader.

As documents uncovered by the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum revealed in September 2021, the United States opposed possible counterterrorism within the military. When William Gleysteen, US Ambassador to South Korea, discovered that the opposition to Chun Doo-hwan was about to stage another military coup, he urged Washington not to give the go-ahead, as it would be potentially disastrous for the Republic of Korea. Gleysteen said the US government needs to make it clear that any further fighting of this kind could destroy the US-ROK relationship and “radically increase the danger from North Korea.”

The main event that Chun’s name is associated with within the history of the ROK is the suppression of the Gwangju uprising in 1980, which the author has covered in detail. According to official figures, more than 200 people were killed and 1,800 wounded. However, several publications speak of a couple of thousand dead, and representatives of relevant NGOs claim that the regime killed some ten thousand. No secret graves have been found yet. It is also unknown who exactly gave the order to fire on the civilians. The independent commission........

© New Eastern Outlook

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