SEOUL: Former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan, whose iron-fisted rule of the country following a 1979 military coup sparked massive democracy protests, has died at the age of 90, his former press aide said.
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.Chun passed away at his Seoul home early yesterday morning.
He was suffering from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer which was in remission, and his health had deteriorated recently, his ex- press secretary Min Chung-ki said.
President Moon Jae-in’s office offered condolences to Chun’s family but expressed regret over his failure to reveal the truth and provide apologies.
Chun’s death came about a month after coup co-conspirator and succeeding president Roh Tae-woo, who played a crucial but controversial role in the country’s troubled transition to democracy, died at 88.
The official toll for the dead or missing at Gwangju is around 200 people, but activists say it may have been three times as high.
Chun and far-right politicians in South Korea dismissed it as a “riot”. — Agencies