Ex-President Roh Tae-woo Dies

  • By Kim Hyeong-won

    October 27, 2021 09:25

    Former President Roh Tae-woo died in hospital on Tuesday. He was 89.

    Roh had been bedridden for some time and was rushed to Seoul National University Hospital on Tuesday afternoon when his condition deteriorated rapidly.

    He is remembered for taking part in a coup in 1979 but making major concessions to opponents of the authoritarian regime that paved the way for a transition to democracy.

    Roh Tae-woo is sworn in as president at the National Assembly on Feb. 25, 1988. /Yonhap

    Born in the southeastern city of Daegu in 1932, Roh graduated from the Korea Military Academy and joined the Army. He took part in the 1979 coup led by his classmate Chun Doo-hwan and the Gwangju massacre of democracy activists the following year.

    But he distanced himself from Chun ahead of the 1987 presidential election and promised wide-ranging reforms and a direct vote for the president, which he won by a narrow margin because the democratic opposition was split. During his tenure he was preoccupied with a major push for international diplomacy.

    After he left office in 1993 he was jailed for mutiny but pardoned in December 1997 by his successor Kim Young-sam.

    Since then, he has cleared his colossal fines for corruption in installments and his son has repeatedly visited the cemetery in Gwangju where the victims of the massacre were laid to rest, paying tribute and making an apology on behalf of his father.

    The ex-president's family issued a statement quoting Roh as saying, "I am truly grateful and honored to have been able to serve the country and its people. I tried my best, but I ask for deep forgiveness for my shortcomings and mistakes."

    He is survived by his wife Kim Ok-suk, daughter So-young (60) and son Jae-heon (58).

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