The widow of South Korea's last dictator has apologized for her brutality

Chun Doo-hwan has never apologized for his brutality, which includes overseeing the killing of hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in Gwangju town.


The widow of South Korea's last military governor has issued a brief apology for the "pain and bruises" caused by her husband's rule as dozens of relatives and former aides gathered at Seoul Hospital on Saturday to pay their last respects to Chun Doo-hwan.

Chun, who took over the reins of government during the 1979 coup and violently ended democratic protests a year before he was arrested for sedition in the 1990s, died at his Seoul home on Tuesday at the age of 90.

On the last day of the five-day funeral, Chun's family held a funeral service at Seoul's Severance Hospital before taking his remains to a memorial park for cremation. Chun's widow, Lee Soon-ja, said that during the service at the hospital her husband wished he had been cremated and that his ashes had been spread across border areas near North Korea.

"As we wrap up the funeral today, I would like to extend my deepest condolences on behalf of our family to the victims of my husband's trauma," Lee said, without elaborating on Chun's wrongdoing.

Chun has never apologized for his brutality, which led to the massacre of hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in the southern city of Gwangju in 1980, one of the darkest moments in the country's modern history when he tried to consolidate his power following a coup. .

Cho Jin-tae, a senior official at the Gwangju Victims' Center, said Lee's vague statement of remorse was unheard of and asked Chun's family to support his words with action, which included cooperation in trying to find the truth about Chun's big mistakes.

"I don't think anyone will be comforted by Lee Soon-ja's comments today," Cho told the Associated Press by telephone.

Lee Jae-myung, who represents South Korea's ruling party in the March presidential election next year, said Chun's widow's words "insulted the people of Gwangju and our people."

He asked if Lee Soon-ja had deliberately removed Gwangju's victims from his apology by speaking openly during Chun's office. When Chun's ouster was in 1979, it was not until September 1980 that he officially made himself the head of state, months after the Gwangju massacre in May.

Chun was a military general when he took power in December 1979 with his military allies, including Roh Tae-woo, who later succeeded Chun as president after winning the first straight national election in nearly two decades in 1987. The two former leaders died about a month-long direct separation, and Roh's death comes in Oct. 26.

When Roh was given a state funeral, there was very little sympathy for Chun, who was dubbed the "Gwangju murderer." Although Roh did not apologize directly for the incident, his son repeatedly visited Gwangju Cemetery to pay his respects and apologized on behalf of his father, who had been bedridden for 10 years before his death.

Chun's coup extended military rule supported by the military following the assassination of his adviser and former army commander, Park Chung-Hee, who had been in power since 1961. the country's economy grew significantly from the ruins of the 1950-53 Korean War.

In addition to the bloody rift in Gwangju, Chun's government also arrested tens of thousands of other dissidents in the 1980s, including the future president and winner of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize winner Kim Dae-jung. Kim, who was the leader of the opposition party at the time, was initially sentenced by a military tribunal for allegedly fueling a Gwangju protest. After the United States intervened, Kim's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

Eager for international authority, Chun's government successfully pursued the 1988 Olympic Games, a process that was accompanied by massive house cleaning and the gathering of homeless and homeless people as officials tried to make the country more attractive for foreign visitors.

In an effort to improve relations with Western democracies and reduce the number of oral contraceptives, Chun's government has also helped adopt Korean children around the world, especially in white families in the Americas and Europe, creating what is now the world's largest adoption center. More than 60,000 children were sent abroad during Chun's presidency, most of them newborns born to discriminated single mothers who were often pressured to give up their children.

Public outrage over his dictatorship sparked widespread protests across the country in 1987, forcing Chun to accept a constitutional review to launch a direct presidential election, which was seen as the beginning of South Korea's democratic transition.

Roh, a candidate in the ruling party, won the December 1987 election, which was marred by controversy, largely because of the split vote between opposition leader Kim Dae-jung and his main rival, Kim Young-sam.

After Roh resigned in 1993, Kim Young-sam became president and accused both Chun and Roh of being part of the revolution. The two former presidents were convicted of sedition and sedition and coup d'etat by Gwangju minority, as well as corruption. Chun was sentenced to death and Roh spent 22 1/2 years in prison.

The Supreme Court later reduced the sentences to Chun's life sentence and 17 years to Roh. After spending almost two years in prison, Roh and Chun were released in late 1997 under a special amnesty demanded by President-elect Kim Dae-jung, who sought national reconciliation.