December 1, 2021
Death of S. Korean dictator leaves brutal legacy unresolved

Death of S. Korean dictator leaves brutal legacy unresolved

SEOUL — The demise this week of South Korea’s final navy dictator, Chun Doo-hwan, marks the tip of a divisive chapter within the nation’s trendy historical past however leaves survivors of his regime’s violence no nearer to reconciliation or decision.  

Chun died on Tuesday on the age of 90.  

Lots of of persons are estimated to have died or gone lacking when the South Korean authorities violently put down the Gwangju rebellion by pro-democracy protesters in Might 1980, when Chun was the de facto chief of the nation after main a navy coup.  

Years after the bloodbath, many particulars stay unconfirmed, together with who gave the orders for troops to open hearth on protesters. Many victims stay unidentified.  

A scarcity of contrition and cooperation by former members of the regime, together with Chun, has hampered efforts to seek out the total reality, victims mentioned.  

“I’m very worried that a lot of truth will be hidden with Chun Doo-hwan’s death,” mentioned 57-year-old Kim Younger-man, who nonetheless carries a scar on his head from the place a police officer struck him with a baton.  

Mr. Kim holds out hope that former members of the regime will come ahead to shine gentle on the bloody crackdown, however like many different victims, was disheartened that Chun died with out exhibiting important regret.  

Months after leaving workplace in 1988 amid rising requires democracy, Chun supplied a proper apology for abuses throughout his management, together with Gwangju.  

However later he appeared to stroll again some of that contrition, prompting victims to doubt the sincerity of that apology as he embraced a defiant and defensive stance to the tip.  

“Chun Doo-hwan was not the type of person to apologize,” Mr. Kim mentioned. “Yet if he had apologized, I think there would have been a possibility that Gwangju citizens who have been heartbroken for 41 years feel a little better.”  

In 1996 Chun was sentenced to demise on costs of corruption and treason, however the sentence was diminished to life in jail and later commuted.  

Extra lately he was concerned in different authorized disputes, together with being discovered responsible in 2020 of defaming a priest who claimed to have witnessed the Gwangju crackdown.  

On Wednesday, a day after Chun’s demise, a gaggle of 70 Gwangju survivors, together with Mr. Kim, filed a lawsuit in opposition to the federal government looking for compensation for emotional harm.  

Some victims have acquired compensation for his or her loss of work, however different claims for compensation for emotional and psychological trauma confronted authorized obstacles till a Supreme Court docket ruling in September, mentioned Lee Ki-bong, an official on the Might 18 Memorial Basis who works with the households.  

A gaggle of victims rallied on Thursday outdoors the hospital the place Chun’s physique was taken, holding indicators telling him to “go to hell.” They condemned some of Chun’s former aides who name the rebellion a plot impressed by North Korean communists.  

In November the primary conservative social gathering’s presidential nominee, Yoon Suk-yeol, traveled to Gwangju to apologize after showing to excuse or reward Chun by saying many individuals thought the previous president “was really good at politics aside from the coup and the events of May 1980.”  

Chun won’t be given a state funeral, and officers mentioned his treason conviction made him ineligible to be buried in a nationwide cemetery.  

“Upon Chun Doo-hwan’s death, South Korean news appear to be pure emotion, disbelief at how he never apologized,” tweeted Korean-American writer Suki Kim.  

“It’s an odd thing to want an apology from a ruthless dictator, decades later, as though expecting justice by [a] universe which had allowed that dictator.” —  Hyonhee Shin and Yeni Search engine optimisation/Reuters

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