Widow of last South Korean dictator offers ‘deep apology’ for husband’s brutal rule

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The widow of South Korea’s last military dictator has issued an apology for the “pain and scars” caused by her husband’s rule.

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Lee Soon-jae, whose husband Chun Doo-hwan died at the age of 90 on November 23, said on Saturday he was “deeply sorry” for the alleged atrocities committed during his brutal dictatorship, but specified neglected to do so and was thoroughly criticized for doing so.

Chun seized power in a 1979 coup, after which he witnessed the brutal massacre of hundreds of pro-democracy activists in the city of Gwangju in 1980.


Ms. Lee spoke for her husband on the final day of a five-day funeral procession, which was attended by relatives and former colleagues.

Before performing her husband’s funeral at Severance Hospital in Seoul, Ms. Lee said: “As we end the funeral procession today, I would like to offer my deepest apologies to my family for those who have lost my life.” There was pain and wounds during her husband’s tenure.” Ashes in Memorial Park.

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The apology, however, did not go down well with critics, who pointed out that the words mean little to justify the genocide and fallout from the brutal regime’s actions.

Chun never apologized for the massacre and caused many controversies in the latter part of his life, even after his reign ended.

He caused a nationwide uproar in 2003 after he claimed a net worth of 291,000 won ($245) in cash, two dogs and some household equipment due to a fine of billions in the state.

It was also found that their four children owned a lot of land in Seoul and luxury villas in the US.

According to Yonhap news agency, Ms. Lee claimed during the ceremony that she remembered her husband saying that “everything was due to my fault and my lack of qualities.”

However, Cho Jin-tae, a senior official of a foundation representing the victims of Gwangju, was quoted as saying that the comments were “vain remarks made out of etiquette”.

He told the Associated Press that the family should participate in Chun’s efforts to find the truth in Chun’s wrongdoing in order to support Ms. Lee’s “deepest apology”.

Similarly, former civil rights lawyer and current presidential candidate for elections in March 2022, Lee Jae-myung, dismissed the widow’s remarks, saying it “insulted the citizens of Gwangju and our people.” “

She attacked Ms. Lee for explicitly including her husband’s “time in the office” in her remarks and questioned whether she intentionally excluded Gwangju victims from her apology.

While there was a coup in 1979, it was only in September 1980 that Chun officially called himself head of state, months after the Gwangju killings in May.

A former, unnamed colleague of Chun was also quoted by Yonhap that “[Ms Lee] No comment on the May 18 uprising.”

In reference to Chun’s brutal military regime, he said, “During his presidency, there were students who were tortured to death by the police.”

Chun’s death came just a month after the death of his coup co-conspirator and then South Korean President Roh Tae-woo on 26 October.

Roh played an important but controversial role in transforming the country into a democracy.

When he was prosecuted in the mid-1990s, Chun expressed his regret, saying that “he is sure I will take the same action if the same situation arises.”

Even though Roh was given a lengthy prison sentence and Chun was sentenced to death, former President Kim Young-sam both pardoned and freed him from prison in 1997.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press


Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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