Former South Korean strongman Chun Doo-hwan dies at the age of 90

Former South Korean strongman Chun Doo-hwan dies at the age of 90

Copyright 2016 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FILE – Former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan entered a Seoul courtroom dressed in prison uniform at his first trial on corruption charges, in Seoul, South Korea, on February 26, 1996. – Democracy demonstrations of 1980, died Tuesday, November 23, 2021. He was 90 years old (AP Photo/Yun Jai-Hyoung, File)

flood — Former South Korean military man Chun Doo-hwan, who took power in a 1979 coup and brutally crushed pro-democracy protests before going to prison for crimes in office, died on Tuesday. He was 90 years old.

Emergency officials said Chun died at his home. Police said earlier that Chun had a heart attack and emergency officials rushed to his residence in Seoul.

Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters were killed and tens of thousands imprisoned during Chun’s presidency in the 1980s, but he allowed some liberalization after years of authoritarian rule. Under public pressure, he permitted the first direct and free elections in the nation’s history.

Facing heavy criticism after leaving office in 1988, Chun took refuge in a Buddhist temple for two years before being arrested. He was tried for corruption, rebellion, and treason, and was sentenced to death upon conviction. He was pardoned in 1997 in an attempt at national reconciliation.


Chun was a major general in the army when he seized power in December 1979 with his military comrades. Tanks and troops rolled into Seoul in a coup that came less than two months after the intelligence chief, President Park Chung-hee, was assassinated during a late-night drinking party.

Chun quickly consolidated his power by suppressing a civil uprising in the southern city of Gwangju, then spelled Gwangju. His government has also imprisoned tens of thousands of students and citizens, saying it is eradicating social evil.

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