Chun Doo-hwan

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Chun Doo-hwan
Chun Doo-hwan, 1983-March-11-02 (cropped).jpg
5th President of South Korea
In office
1 September 1980 25 February 1988
Prime Minister Yoo Chang-soon
Kim Sang-hyup
Chin Iee-chong
Lho Shin-yong
Lee Han-key
Kim Chung-yul
Preceded by Choi Kyu-hah
Pak Choong-hoon (acting)
Succeeded by Roh Tae-woo
President of the Democratic Justice Party
In office
15 January 1981 10 July 1987
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by Roh Tae-woo
Personal details
Born (1931-01-18) 18 January 1931 (age 88)
Naecheon-ri, Yulgok-myeon, Hapcheon, Japanese Korea
(now Hapcheon County, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea) [1]
Political party Democratic Justice
Rhee Soon-ja(m. 1958)
ChildrenChun Jae-yong (son,1959)

Chun Hyg-sun (daughter,1962)
Chun Jae-guk (son,1964)

Chun Jae-man (son,1971)


Alma mater Korea Military Academy (B.S.)
Religion Buddhism (formerly Roman Catholic)
Signature Chun Doo-Hwan signature.svg
Military service
AllegianceFlag of South Korea (1949-1984).png South Korea
Branch/serviceFlag of the Republic of Korea Army.svg  Republic of Korea Army
Years of service1951–1980
Rank General
Commands Defense Security Command, KCIA
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Korean name
Revised Romanization Jeon Duhwan
McCune–Reischauer Chŏn Tuhwan
Pen name
Revised Romanization Ilhae
McCune–Reischauer Irhae
Courtesy name
Revised Romanization Yongseong
McCune–Reischauer Yongsŏng

Chun Doo-hwan (Korean pronunciation:  [tɕʌn.du.ɦwan] or [tɕʌn] [tu.ɦwan] ; born 18 January 1931) is a South Korean politician and former South Korean army general who served as the President of South Korea from 1980 to 1988, ruling as an unelected coup leader from December 1979 to September 1980 and as elected president from 1980 to 1988. Chun was sentenced to death in 1996 for his role in the Gwangju Massacre but was later pardoned by President Kim Young-sam, with the advice of then President-elect Kim Dae-jung, whom Chun's administration had sentenced to death some 20 years earlier.

South Korea Republic in East Asia

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and lying to the east of the Asian mainland. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia, under Gwanggaeto the Great. South Korea lies in the north temperate zone and has a predominantly mountainous terrain. It comprises an estimated 51.4 million residents distributed over 100,363 km2 (38,750 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Seoul, with a population of around 10 million.

Republic of Korea Army Land warfare branch of South Koreas military

The Republic of Korea Army, also known as the ROK Army, is the army of South Korea, responsible for ground-based warfare. It is the largest of the military branches of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces with 464,000 members as of 2018. This size is maintained through conscription; South Korean men must complete 21 months of military service between the age of 18 and 35.

President of South Korea Head of state and of government of the Republic of Korea

The President of the Republic of Korea is, according to the South Korean constitution, the chairperson of the cabinet, the chief executive of the government, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the head of state of South Korea. The Constitution and the amended Presidential Election Act of 1987 provide for election of the president by direct, secret ballot, ending sixteen years of indirect presidential elections under the preceding two governments. The president is directly elected to a five-year term, with no possibility of re-election. If a presidential vacancy should occur, a successor must be elected within sixty days, during which time presidential duties are to be performed by the prime minister or other senior cabinet members in the order of priority as determined by law. While in office, the chief executive lives in Cheong Wa Dae, and is exempt from criminal liability.

Early life and education

Chun was born on 18 January 1931 in Yulgok-myeon, a poor farming town in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang province, during Japanese rule over Korea. Chun Doo-hwan was the fourth son out of ten children to Chun Sang-woo and Kim Jeong-mun. [2] Chun's oldest two brothers, Yeol-hwan and Kyuu-gon, died in an accident when he was an infant. Chun grew up knowing his remaining older brother Ki-hwan and his younger brother Kyeong-hwan.

Korea under Japanese rule Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910–1945

Korea under Japanese rule began with the end of the short-lived Korean Empire in 1910 and ended at the conclusion of World War II in 1945. Japanese rule over Korea was the outcome of a process that began with the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876, whereby a complex coalition of the Meiji government, military, and business officials sought to integrate Korea both politically and economically into the Empire of Japan. A major stepping-stone towards the Japanese occupation of Korea was the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1905, in which the then-Korean Empire was declared a protectorate of Japan. The annexation of Korea by Japan was set up in the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910, which was never actually signed by the Korean Regent, Gojong.

Around 1936, Chun's family moved to Taegu, where he began attending Horan Elementary School. Chun's father had run-ins with the Japanese police in the past, and in the winter of 1939 he murdered a police captain. [2] Their family immediately fled to Jilin, China, where they stayed in hiding for two years before returning. When Chun finally started attending elementary school again, he was 2 years behind his original classmates.

Daegu Metropolitan City in Yeongnam, South Korea

Daegu, formerly spelled Taegu and officially known as the Daegu Metropolitan City, is a city in South Korea, the fourth-largest after Seoul, Busan, and Incheon, and the third-largest metropolitan area in the nation with over 2.5 million residents. Daegu and surrounding North Gyeongsang Province are often referred to as Daegu-Gyeongbuk, with a total population over 5 million. Daegu is located in south-eastern Korea about 80 km (50 mi) from the seacoast, near the Geumho River and its mainstream, Nakdong River in Gyeongsang-do. The Daegu basin, where the city lies, is the central plain of the Yeongnam region. In ancient times, there was a proto-country named Jinhan, to which the current Daegu area belonged. Later, Daegu was part of the Silla Kingdom which unified the Korean Peninsula. During the Joseon Dynasty period, the city was the capital of Gyeongsang-do, which was one of the traditional eight provinces of the country.

Jilin Province of China

Jilin, is one of the three provinces of Northeast China. Jilin borders North Korea and Russia to the east, Heilongjiang to the north, Liaoning to the south, and Inner Mongolia to the west.

Republic of China (1912–1949) 1912–1949 country in Asia, when the Republic of China governed mainland China

The Republic of China (ROC), was a state in East Asia which controlled the Chinese mainland between 1912 and 1949. The state was established in January 1912 after the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China. Its government fled to Taipei in 1949 due to the Kuomintang's defeat in the Chinese Civil War. The Republic of China's first president, Sun Yat-sen, served only briefly before handing over the position to Yuan Shikai, leader of the Beiyang Army. His party, then led by Song Jiaoren won the parliamentary election held in December 1912. Song Jiaoren was assassinated shortly after and the Beiyang Army led by Yuan Shikai maintained full control of the Beiyang government. Between late 1915 and early 1916, Yuan Shikai tried to reinstate the monarchy before abdicating due to popular unrest. After Yuan Shikai's death in 1916, members of cliques in the Beiyang Army claimed their autonomy and clashed with each other. During this period, the authority of the Beiyang government was weakened by a restoration of the Qing dynasty.

In 1947, Chun began attending Daegu Vocational Middle School, located nearly 25 km from his home. [2] Chun moved on to Daegu Vocational High School.

Military career

After graduating from high school in 1951, Chun gained entry into the Korea Military Academy (KMA). While there, he made several key friends among the students who would later play instrumental roles in helping Chun to seize control of the country. He graduated in February 1955 with a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the 11th class of the KMA. He later trained in the United States, specializing in guerilla tactics and psychological warfare, and married Rhee Soon-ja, the daughter of the KMA's commandant at the time of his attendance, in 1958. [3] [4]

Korea Military Academy military academy

Korea Military Academy (KMA) is the leading South Korean institution for the education and training of officer cadets for the Republic of Korea Army. Along with the Korea Army Academy (Yeongcheon), it produces the largest number of senior officers in the Korean army. Commonly referred to as Hwarangdae ) as a reference to the Hwarang, an elite organization of youth leaders which existed in Korean history, it is located in Nowon-gu, a northeast district of Seoul, South Korea.

A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years, or a person holding such a degree.

Psychological warfare (PSYWAR), or the basic aspects of modern psychological operations (PSYOP), have been known by many other names or terms, including MISO, Psy Ops, political warfare, "Hearts and Minds", and propaganda. The term is used "to denote any action which is practiced mainly by psychological methods with the aim of evoking a planned psychological reaction in other people". Various techniques are used, and are aimed at influencing a target audience's value system, belief system, emotions, motives, reasoning, or behavior. It is used to induce confessions or reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the originator's objectives, and are sometimes combined with black operations or false flag tactics. It is also used to destroy the morale of enemies through tactics that aim to depress troops' psychological states. Target audiences can be governments, organizations, groups, and individuals, and is not just limited to soldiers. Civilians of foreign territories can also be targeted by technology and media so as to cause an effect in the government of their country.

Chun, then a captain, led a demonstration at the KMA to show support for the May 16 coup led by Park Chung-hee. Chun was subsequently made secretary to the commander of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, [3] [4] placing him directly under Park. Chun was quickly promoted to major in 1962, while continuing to make powerful friends and acquaintances. As a major, Chun was the deputy chief of operations for the Special Warfare Command's battle headquarters, and later worked for the Supreme Council for Reconstruction again as the Chief Civil Affairs Officer. In 1963, Chun was given a position in the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) as Personnel Director. By 1969, he was senior advisor to the Army Chief of Staff. [3] [4]

May 16 coup Military coup in South Korea

The May 16 military coup d'état was a military coup d'état in South Korea in 1961, organized and carried out by Park Chung-hee and his allies who formed the Military Revolutionary Committee, nominally led by Army Chief of Staff Chang Do-yong after the latter's acquiescence on the day of the coup. The coup rendered powerless the democratically elected government of Yun Bo-seon and ended the Second Republic, installing a reformist military Supreme Council for National Reconstruction effectively led by Park, who took over as Chairman after General Chang's arrest in July.

Park Chung-hee South Korean army general and the leader of South Korea from 1961 to 1979

Park Chung-hee was a South Korean politician and general who served as the President of South Korea from 1963 until his assassination in 1979, assuming that office after first ruling the country as head of a military dictatorship installed by the May 16 coup in 1961. Before his presidency, he was the chairman of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction from 1961 to 1963 after a career as a military leader in the South Korean army.

Supreme Council for National Reconstruction military junta in South Korea (1961–1963)

The Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, initially named the Military Revolutionary Committee, was a military junta that oversaw the government of South Korea from May 16, 1961 until the inauguration of the Third Republic of South Korea in 1963. It was composed largely of military officers who were involved in or supportive of the May 16 coup which overthrew the Second Republic of South Korea. The council was chaired initially by Chang Do-yong, and subsequently by Park Chung-hee. The president of the Second Republic, Yun Po-sun, stayed in office as a figurehead.

In 1970, holding the rank of colonel, Chun became the commander of the 29th Regiment, South Korean 9th Infantry Division, and participated in the Vietnam War. Upon returning to Korea in 1971, he was given command of the 1st Special Forces Brigade (Airborne) and later promoted to brigadier general. In 1976 he worked as the deputy chief of the Presidential Security Service and was promoted to the rank of major general during his time there. In 1978 he became the commanding officer of the 1st Infantry Division. [3] [4]

Finally, in 1979, he was appointed commander of Security Command, his highest position yet.

Rise to power


Chun formed Hanahoe as a secret military club shortly after his promotion to general officer. It was predominantly composed of his fellow graduates from the 11th class of the Korea Military Academy, as well as other friends and supporters. The membership to this secret club was predominately restricted to officers from the Gyeongsang Provinces with just a token membership reserved for a Cholla Provinces' officer. This secret organization's existence within a highly regimented and rigid hierarchical organization of the army was only possible because it was under the patronage of then President Park Chung-hee.

Assassination of Park Chung-hee

On 26 October 1979, South Korean President Park Chung-hee was assassinated by Kim Jae-kyu, Director of the KCIA, while at a dinner party. Secretly, Kim had invited General Jeong Seung-hwa, Army Chief of Staff, and Kim Jeong-seop, Vice-Deputy Director of the KCIA, to dinner in another room that night as well. Although Jeong Seung-hwa was neither present during nor involved in the shooting of the President, his involvement later proved crucial. In the chaos that followed, Kim Jae-kyu was not arrested for many hours, as details of the incident were initially unclear.

After some confusion over the constitutional procedures for presidential succession, Prime Minister Choi Kyu-ha finally ascended to the position of Acting President. Soon after, Jeong named Chun's Security Command to head up the investigation into the mysterious assassination. Chun immediately ordered his subordinates to draw up plans for the creation of an all-powerful "Joint Investigation Headquarters". [5]

On 27 October, Chun called for a meeting in his commander's office. Invited were four key individuals now responsible for all intelligence collection nationwide: KCIA Deputy Chief of Foreign Affairs, KCIA Deputy Chief of Domestic Affairs, Attorney General, and Chief of the National Police. [5] Chun had each person searched at the door on his way in, before having them seated and informing them of the President's death. Chun declared the KCIA held full responsibility for the President's assassination, and its organization was therefore under investigation for the crime. Chun stated that the KCIA would no longer be allowed to exercise its own budget:

For the KCIA "to continue exercising full discretion of their budget is unacceptable. Therefore, they are only allowed to execute their duties upon receiving authorization from the Joint Investigation Headquarters."

Chun Doo-hwan, Security Command and Joint Investigation Headquarters commander, 27 October 1979

Chun subsequently ordered all intelligence reports to now be sent to his office at 8:00 am and 5:00 pm every day, so he could decide what information to give higher command. In one move, Chun had taken control of the entire nation's intelligence organizations. Chun then put the KCIA Deputy Chief of Foreign Affairs in charge of running the day-to-day business of the KCIA.

Major Park Jun-kwang, working under Chun at the time, later commented:

In front of the most powerful organizations under the Park Chung-hee presidency, it surprised me how easily [Chun] gained control over them and how skillfully he took advantage of the circumstances. In an instant he seemed to have grown into a giant.

Park Jun-kwang, assigned to Security Command and Joint Investigation Headquarters

During the investigation and concerned for the welfare of President Park's family, Chun personally gave money (US$500,000) from Park's slush fund to Park Geun-hye, who was 27 at the time. He was reprimanded for this by General Jeong. [6]

12 December coup d’état

In the following month Chun, along with Roh Tae-woo, Yu Hak-seong, Heo Sam-su, and others from the 11th graduating class of the KMA, continued taking advantage of the fragile political situation to grow Hanahoe's strength, courting key commanders and subverting the nation's intelligence gathering organizations.

On 12 December 1979, Chun ordered the arrest of Army Chief of Staff Jeong Seung-hwa on charges of conspiring with Kim Jae-kyu to assassinate the President. This order was made without authorization from President Choi. On the night of Jeong's capture, 29th Regiment, 9th Division, along with the 1st and 3rd Airborne Brigades, invaded downtown Seoul to support the 30th and 33rd Security Group loyal to Chun, then a series of conflicts broke out in the capital. Jang Tae-wan, commander of the Capital Garrison Command and Jeong Byeong Ju, commander of the special forces, were also arrested by the rebel troops. Major Kim Oh-rang, Aide-de-camp of General Jeong Byeong-ju, was killed during the gun-fight. By the next morning, the Ministry of Defense and Army HQ were all occupied, and Chun was in firm control of the military. For all intents and purposes, he was now the de facto leader of the country.[ citation needed ]

In early 1980, Chun was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general, and he took up the position of acting director of the KCIA. On 14 April, Chun was officially installed as director of the KCIA.

Gwangju Democratization Movement and military intervention

Memorial Hall in the May 18th National Cemetery in Gwangju where victims' bodies were buried Gwangju5.18FriedhofFotos.JPG
Memorial Hall in the May 18th National Cemetery in Gwangju where victims' bodies were buried

On 17 May 1980, Chun expanded martial law to the entire country, due to rumors of North Korean infiltration into South Korea. To enforce the martial law, troops were dispatched to various parts of the nation. The KCIA manipulated these rumors under the command of Chun. General John A. Wickham (US Armed Forces in Korea) reported that Chun's pessimistic assessment of the domestic situation and his stress on the North Korean threat only seemed to be a pretext for a move into the Blue House (the Korean presidential residence). [7] The expanded martial law closed universities, banned political activities and further curtailed the press. The event of 17 May meant the beginning of another military dictatorship.

Many townsfolk were growing unhappy with the military presence in their cities, and on 18 May, the citizens of Gwangju organized into what became known as the Gwangju Democratization Movement. Chun ordered it to be immediately suppressed, sending in crack military troops with tanks and helicopter gunships to retake City Hall and ordered the troops to exercise full force. This led to a bloody massacre over the next two days, ultimately leading to the collapse of the Gwangju Democratization Movement and the deaths of several hundred Gwangju activists. Because of this remarkable "accomplishment", he was called "The Butcher of Gwangju" by many people, especially among the students.

Path to the Presidency

In June 1980, Chun ordered the National Assembly to be dissolved. He subsequently created the Special Committee for National Security Measures (SCNSM), a Junta-like organization, and installed himself as a member. On 17 July, he resigned his position as KCIA Director, and then held only the position of committee member.

On 5 August, with full control of the military he was self-promoted to four star General and on 22 August he was discharged from active duty to the Army reserves.

Samchung Re-education Camp

Beginning in August 1980, citizens were subjected to organized violence under the name of social cleansing, which aimed at the elimination of social ills, such as violence, smuggling, drugs and deceptions. They were arrested without proper warrants and given ex parte rankings. Some 42,000 victims were enrolled in the Samchung re-education camp for "purificatory education". More than 60,000 people were arrested in six months between August 1980 and January 1981, including many innocent citizens. They faced violence and hard labour in the Re-education Camp. [8]

Fifth Republic

President Chun, and his wife, Rhee Soon-ja, prepare to depart after their visit to Washington D.C. in 1981. Chun Doo-hwan and Lee SoonJa.jpg
President Chun, and his wife, Rhee Soon-ja, prepare to depart after their visit to Washington D.C. in 1981.

President of South Korea (1980–1988)

In August 1980, Choi, who had long since become little more than a figurehead, announced that he would be resigning the presidency. On 27 August, the National Conference for Unification, the nation's electoral college, gathered in Jang Choong Gymnasium. Chun was the sole candidate. Out of 2525 members, 2524 voted for Chun with 1 vote counted as invalid, thus with a tally of 99.99% in favor (it was widely speculated at that time that 1 invalid vote was purposely rigged as to differentiate Chun from North Korea's Kim Il Sung, who regularly claimed 100% support in North Korea's elections). He was officially inaugurated into office on 1 September 1980.

On 17 October, he abolished all political parties —including Park's Democratic Republican Party, which had essentially ruled the country as a one-party state since the imposition of the Yushin Constitution. In January 1981, Chun formed his own party, the Democratic Justice Party; however, for all intents and purposes, it was Park's Democratic Republican Party under another name. Soon afterward, a new constitution was enacted that, while far less authoritarian than Park's Yusin Constitution, still gave fairly broad powers to the president. He was then re-elected president by the National Conference later that January, taking 90 percent of the delegates vote against three minor candidates.

Missile memorandum

In 1980, in the face of increased tension with the U.S. over his military takeover, President Chun issued a memorandum stating that his country would not develop missiles with a range longer than 180 km or capable of carrying greater than a 453 kg warhead. After receiving this promise, the Reagan administration decided to fully recognize Chun's military government.[ citation needed ]

In the late 1990s, South Korea and the U.S. held talks on the issue and, rather than scrap the memorandum completely, they came to an agreement allowing missiles up to 300 km in range and capability to carry up to a 500 kg warhead. This compromise came into effect in 2001 under the name Missile Technology Control Regime.

From 1981 to 1988

President Chun Doo-hwan, attending a 1985 military briefing Chun Doo-hwan, 1985-Mar-22.jpg
President Chun Doo-hwan, attending a 1985 military briefing

After his election in 1981, Chun completely rejected the presidency of Park, even going so far as to strike all references to Park's 1961 military coup from the constitution. Chun announced that he would be restoring justice to the government to remove the fraud and corruption of Park's tenure. [9]

South Korean nuclear weapons program

Chun's government did not have the considerable political influence enjoyed by Park Chung-hee's administration. His government could not ignore American influence, and he ended South Korea's nuclear weapons program. [10] [11] During this time, Chun was worried about the state of South Korean-American relations, which had greatly deteriorated towards the end of Park Chung-hee's long authoritarian presidency. Chun needed to be recognized by the United States to legitimize his government. [12]

Political reforms

After his inauguration, Chun clamped down on out-of-school tutoring and banned individual teaching or tutoring. In September 1980, Chun repealed "guilt by association" laws. In 1981, Chun enacted "Care and Custody" legislation; Chun believed that criminals who finish their prison time for a repeat offense should not be immediately returned to society. During the winter of 1984, before declaring a moratorium on the Korean economy, Chun visited Japan, where he requested a loan for $6 billion. With the military coup taking power and crushing the democratization movements country-wide, the citizens' political demands were being ignored, and in this way the 3S Policy (Sex, Screen, Sports) was passed. Based on right-way[ clarification needed ] Japanese activist Sejima Ryuzo's proposal, Chun tried to appeal to the citizens in order to ensure the success of the 1988 Seoul Olympics preparations. Chun rapidly enacted various measures to this end, forming a pro baseball and pro soccer team, starting the broadcast of color TV throughout the nation as a whole, lessening censorship on sexually suggestive dramas and movies, making school uniforms voluntary, and so forth. In 1981, Chun held a large-scale festival called "Korean Breeze", but it was largely ignored by the population.

1983 North Korean assassination attempt

In 1983, Chun was the target of a failed assassination attempt by North Korean agents during a visit to Rangoon, Burma. The North Korean bombing killed 17 of Chun's entourage, including cabinet ministers. Four Burmese government officials were also killed in the attack. [13]

Foreign policy

Chun with U.S. Major General Claude M. Kicklighter in March 1985 Chun Doo-hwan and Claude M. Kicklighter, Chung ho-yong, 1985-Mar-22.jpg
Chun with U.S. Major General Claude M. Kicklighter in March 1985

Chun's presidency occurred during the Cold War, and his foreign policies were based around combating communism not only from North Korea, but also from the Soviet Union and Communist China.

The United States put pressure on the South Korean government to abandon its plans to develop nuclear weapons.

Japanese newspapers widely reported that Chun was the de facto leader of the country months before he made any move to become President.

In 1982, Chun announced the "Korean People Harmony Democracy Reunification Program", but due to repeated rejections from North Korea the program was unable to get off the ground.

Also from 1986 to 1988, he and President Corazon Aquino of the Philippines established talks between the two countries for strengthening Philippine-South Korean economic, social and cultural friendship.

End of the Fifth Republic

Noh Shin-yeong

From the start of his presidency, Chun began grooming Noh Shin-yeong as his eventual successor. In 1980, while working as ambassador to the Geneva Representation Bureau, Noh Shin-yeong was recalled and made Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1982, he was installed as the Director of the Security Planning Bureau, and in 1985, he was named Prime Minister.

When that became widely known, those supporting Chun's regime were highly critical of his choice of successor. His supporters, mostly those with heavy military backgrounds, believed that the proper way to groom a successor was by military duties, not political positions. Chun was eventually persuaded to reverse his position and ceased pushing for Noh Shin-yeong to succeed him.


The 1981 constitution restricted the president to a single seven-year term. Unlike his predecessors, Chun did not attempt to amend the document to run again in 1987. However, he consistently resisted pleas to open up the regime.

On 13 April 1987, Chun made a "Defense of the Constitution" speech. He declared that the DJP candidate for president would be one of his military supporters, and his successor would be chosen in an indirect election similar to the one that elected Chun seven years earlier. That announcement enraged the democratization community and, in concert with several scandals from the Chun government that year, demonstrators began their movement again, starting with a speech at the Anglican Cathedral of Seoul.

Two months later, he declared Roh Tae-woo as the Democratic Justice Party's candidate for president, which, by all accounts, effectively handed Roh the presidency. The announcement triggered the June Democracy Movement, a series of large pro-democracy rallies across the country. In hopes of gaining control over a situation that was rapidly getting out of hand, Roh made a speech promising a much more democratic constitution and the first direct presidential elections in 16 years. On 10 July 1987, Chun resigned as head of the Democratic Justice Party, remaining its Honorary Chairman but giving official political party control for the upcoming election to Roh.

1987 presidential election

In the 16 December 1987 Presidential Election, Roh won the election, the first honest national elections of any sort held in the country in two decades, after Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung split the popular vote. Chun finished out his term and handed the presidency to Roh on 25 February 1988.

Later life

In February 1988, having stepped down from the presidency at the conclusion of his term, Chun was named Chairman of the National Statesman Committee and so wielded considerable influence in South Korean politics. In that year, the Democratic Justice Party lost most of its seats in National Assembly elections to opposition parties, paving the way for the so-called "Fifth Republic Hearings." The National Assembly explored the events of the Gwangju Democratization Movement and where responsibility should lay for the resulting massacre. On 11 November 1988, Chun apologized to the nation in a public address, pledging to give his money and belongings back to the country. Chun resigned from both the National Statesman Committee and the Democratic Justice Party.

At this time, Chun decided to live for several years in Baekdamsa, a Buddhist temple in the Gangwon-do province, in order to pay penance for his actions. On 30 December 1990, Chun left Baekdamsa and returned home.

Kim Young-sam

After Kim Young-sam's inauguration as President in 1993, Kim declared that Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo had stolen 400 billion won (nearly $370 million) from the South Korean people, and he would conduct internal investigations to prove this. There have been allegations that Kim proceeded to draw attention away from his own corruption.

Investigations into Chun and Roh

On 16 November 1995, the citizens’ cries were growing louder about the 12 December 1979 military coup and the bloody 5–18 Gwangju Democratization Movement incident, so Kim Young-sam announced the beginning of a movement to enact retroactive legislation, naming the bill Special Act on 5–18 Democratization Movement. As soon as the Constitutional Court declared Chun's actions as unconstitutional, the prosecutors began a reinvestigation. On 3 December 1995, Chun and 16 others were arrested on charges of conspiracy and insurrection. At the same time, an investigation into the corruption of their presidencies was begun.

In March 1996, their public trial began. On 26 August, the Seoul District Court issued a death sentence.[ citation needed ] On 16 December 1996, the Seoul High Court issued a sentence of life imprisonment and a fine in the amount of ₩220 billion.[ citation needed ] On 17 April 1997, the judgement was finalized in the Supreme Court. Chun was officially convicted of: Leading an Insurrection, Conspiracy to Commit Insurrection, Taking Part in an Insurrection, Illegal Troop Movement Orders, Dereliction of Duty During Martial Law, Murder of Superior Officers, Attempted Murder of Superior Officers, Murder of Subordinate Troops, Leading a Rebellion, Conspiracy to Commit Rebellion, Taking Part in a Rebellion, Murder for the Purpose of Rebellion, as well as assorted crimes relating to bribery.

After his sentence was finalized, Chun began serving his prison sentence. On 22 December 1997, Chun's life imprisonment sentence was commuted by President Kim Young-sam, on the advice of incoming President Kim Dae-jung.[ citation needed ] Chun was still required to pay his massive fine, but at that point he had only paid ₩53.3 billion, not quite a fourth of the total fine amount. Chun made a relatively famous quote, saying, "I have only ₩290,000 to my name." The remaining ₩167.2 billion was never collected.[ citation needed ]

According to the "May 18th Special Legislation", all medals awarded for the military intervention during the Gwangju Democratization Movement were revoked and ordered to be returned to the government. There are still nine medals that have not been returned to the government.[ citation needed ]

Confiscation of artworks

Because of Chun's unpaid fines amounting to ₩167.2 billion, a team of 90 prosecutors, tax collectors and other investigators raided multiple locations simultaneously in July 2013, including Chun's residence and his family members' homes and offices. Television footage showed them hauling away paintings, porcelain and expensive artifacts. [14] Among the properties searched were two warehouses owned by publisher Chun Jae-kook, Chun's eldest son, which contained more than 350 pieces of art by famous Korean artists, some estimated to be worth ₩1 billion. [15]

The National Assembly passed a bill called the Chun Doo-hwan Act, extending the statute of limitations on confiscating assets from public officials who have failed to pay fines. Under the old law, prosecutors had only until October 2013, but the new law extends the statute of limitations on Chun's case until 2020 and allows prosecutors to collect from his family members as well if it is proven that any of their properties originated from Chun's illegal funds. [16]


Foreign honours

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Kim Dae-jung, or Kim Dae Jung, was a South Korean politician who served as President of South Korea from 1998 to 2003. He was a 2000 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the only Korean Nobel Prize recipient in history. He was sometimes referred to as the "Nelson Mandela of South Korea".

Kim Jae-gyu South Korean military officer

Kim Jae-gyu was a South Korean Army Lieutenant General and the director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. He assassinated South Korean President Park Chung-hee—who had been one of his closest friends—on October 26, 1979, and was subsequently executed by hanging on May 24, 1980.

Minjung is a Korean word that combines the two hanja characters min and jung. Min is from "Inmin" may be translated as "people" and jung is from "Daejung" which translated as "public". Thus, minjung literally means "peoblic", or more simply "mass" or "the people."

The Coup d'état of December Twelfth or the "12.12 Military Insurrection" was a military coup d'état which took place on December 12, 1979, in South Korea.

Fourth Republic of Korea Fourth republican system of Republic of Korea, established by October Yusin

The Fourth Republic was the government of South Korea between 1972 and 1981, regulated by the Yusin Constitution adopted in October 1972 and confirmed in a referendum on 21 November 1972. From 1972 to 1979, power was monopolized by Park Chung Hee and his Democratic Republican Party under the highly centralized authoritarian "Yusin System". With the assassination of Park on 26 October 1979, the Republic entered a period of tumult and transition under the short-lived nominal presidency of Choi Kyu-hah, controlled under severe escalating martial law and witnessing the coup d'état of December Twelfth, the violent unfolding of the Gwangju Democratization Movement and its armed suppression, the coup d'état of May Seventeenth and presidency of Chun Doo-hwan, and finally the transition to the Fifth Republic under Chun in 1981.

Fifth Republic of Korea

The Fifth Republic of South Korea was the government of South Korea from 1981 to 1987, replacing the Fourth Republic of South Korea. Throughout this period, the government was controlled by Chun Doo-hwan, a military colleague of the assassinated president Park Chung-hee. This period saw extensive efforts at reform. It laid the foundations for the relatively stable democratic system of the subsequent Sixth Republic in 1987.

Sandglass is a South Korean television series. It is one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in history, and is also considered one of the most significant. Written by Song Ji-na and directed by Kim Jong-hak, it aired on SBS in 1995 in 24 episodes.

Kim Geun-tae South Korean politician

Kim Geun-tae was a democracy activist and politician of the Republic of Korea.

Park Chung-hee, President of South Korea, was assassinated on October 26, 1979 during a dinner at a Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) safehouse inside the Blue House presidential compound, in Gangjeong-dong, Seoul. Kim Jae-gyu, then the director of KCIA and the president's security chief, is responsible for the assassination. Park was shot in the chest and head, and died almost immediately. Four bodyguards and a presidential chauffeur were also killed. The incident is often referred to as "10.26" or the "10.26 incident" in South Korea.

The Seoul Spring was a period of democratization in South Korea from 26 October 1979 to 17 May 1980. This expression was derived from the Prague spring of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Jeong Seung-hwa was a South Korean general officer, and the 22nd Republic of Korea Army Chief of Staff. He was present at the Blue House presidential compound, site of the assassination of President Park Chung-hee, when it took place on 26 October 1979.

The June Struggle, also known as the June Democracy Movement and June Democratic Uprising was a nationwide democracy movement in South Korea that generated mass protests from June 10 to June 29, 1987. The demonstrations forced the ruling government to hold elections and institute other democratic reforms which led to the establishment of the Sixth Republic, the present day government of South Korea.

1981 South Korean presidential election

Two-stage presidential elections were held in South Korea in February 1981. An electoral college was elected on 11 February, which in turn elected the president on 25 February. They were the last indirect presidential elections controlled by the government of Chun Doo-hwan under the new 1980 Constitution. Chun was re-elected with 90% of the electoral college vote.

The Coup d'état of May Seventeenth was a military coup d'état carried out in South Korea by general Chun Doo-hwan and Hanahoe that followed the Coup d'état of December Twelfth.

<i>5th Republic</i> (TV series) television series

5th Republic is a 2005 South Korean television series that aired on MBC from April 23 to September 1, 2005 on Saturdays and Sundays at 21:40 for 41 episodes. It depicted the Fifth Republic of South Korea, during which Chun Doo-hwan was president from 1981 to 1988, from his rise to power through a military coup to his downfall after a series of democratic movements, such as the Gwangju uprising and the June Democratic Uprising. It was a politically and socially turbulent era in the country's history, which generated controversy for the drama series.

Kim Young-sam South Korean politician

Kim Young-sam was a South Korean politician and democratic activist, who served as President of South Korea from 1993 to 1998. From 1961, he spent almost 30 years as one of the leaders of the South Korean opposition, and one of the most powerful rivals to the authoritarian regimes of Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan.

Events from the year 1979 in South Korea.

Events from the year 1980 in South Korea.

This article provides a list of political scandals that involve officials from the government or politicians of South Korea.


  1. "Chun Doo Hwan". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 Choi Jin (최진) (30 October 2008). "대통령의 아버지, 누구인가?...가난한 농사꾼에서 거제도 갑부까지 ①" [Who is the father of the president?...From a poor farmer to a rich man of Geoje Island]. JoongAng Ilbo . Retrieved 31 October 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 4 전두환대통령 > 경력및 상훈사항 [President Chun Doo-hwan > Career and awards] (in Korean). Presidential Archives, National Archives of Korea . Retrieved 31 October 2009.[ dead link ]
  4. 1 2 3 4 전두환 [Chun Doo-hwan] (in Korean). Nate People (Nate 인물검색). Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2009.
  5. 1 2 Cho, Gab-je (조갑제); Lee, Dong-uk (이동욱) (7 December 1997). (박정희의 생애) "내 무덤에 침을 뱉어라!"...(48) [(Biography of Park Chung-hee) "Spit on my grave!"... (48)] (in Korean). The Chosun Ilbo . Retrieved 1 November 2009.
  7. The US Government Statement on the Events in Gwangju, Republic of Korea, in May 1980
  8. "National Human Rights Commission of Korea Recommended Equal Compensations for Foreign Victims of "Samchung Re-education Camp"". Hurights Osaka. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  9. Jeon, Jae-ho (전재호) (2000). 반동적 근대주의자 박정희[Reactionary Modernist, Park Chung-hee (Bandongjeok geundaejuuija Bak Jeong-hui)] (in Korean). South Korea: 책세상 (Chaeksesang). pp. 112–113. ISBN   978-89-7013-148-1.
  10. Park, Jong-jin (박종진) (23 September 2004). (한반도 핵) 무궁화 꽃이 피었습니까?. Hankooki (in Korean). Retrieved 4 November 2009.
  11. Seo, Byeong-gi (서병기) (18 July 2005). ‘제5공화국’ 츈두환,핵무기개발 포기 방영후 네티즌 비난 [After the broadcasting of 'The 5th Republic' that the President, Chun Doo-hwan gave up developing nuclear weapons, Netizens criticized] (in Korean). Korea Herald Business . Retrieved 4 November 2009.
  12. Kim, Jae-hyeon (김재현) (10 October 2006). 전직 대통령 북핵실험 진단 `3인3색' ['Three people three colors', Former Presidents' analysis on North Korea's nuclear research]. Yonhap hosted by Naver News (in Korean). Retrieved 4 November 2009.
  13. 2 get death for info leak News24
  14. "Ex-Pres.' Home Raided, Searched". KBS Global. 21 July 2013. Archived from the original on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  15. "350 Artworks Confiscated from Chun Doo-hwan's Son". The Chosun Ilbo . 19 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  16. Choe, Sang-hun (13 July 2013). "Prosecutors Raid Home of Former South Korean President". The New York Times . Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  17. "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1981" (PDF).
  18. ราชกิจจานุเบกษา, แจ้งความสำนักนายกรัฐมนตรี เรื่อง พระราชทานเครื่องราชอิสริยาภรณ์, เล่ม ๑๐๐, ตอน ๑๐๒ ง ฉบับพิเศษ, ๒๒ มิถุนายน พ.ศ. ๒๕๒๖, หน้า ๑๑
Political offices
Preceded by
Choi Kyu-hah
President of South Korea
1 September 1980 25 February 1988
Succeeded by
Roh Tae-woo