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Pastor reveals pang of remorse for loss of politician

A man carries a framed photo of the deceased politician Chung Doo-un during his funeral at Yonsei University Severance Hospital in western Seoul on Friday. Chung was found dead last Tuesday on a western section of Mount Bukhan in Seoul. / Yonhap
A man carries a framed photo of the deceased politician Chung Doo-un during his funeral at Yonsei University Severance Hospital in western Seoul on Friday. Chung was found dead last Tuesday on a western section of Mount Bukhan in Seoul. / Yonhap

By Kang Hyun-kyung

Lee Jang-ho, pastor of the God's Will Kwangsung Church in Seoul, expressed deep remorse over the loss of former lawmaker Chung Doo-un who was found dead last Tuesday on the western section of Mount Bukhan in Seoul.

In a social media post, Rev. Lee said Chung was a member of his church.

"Upon hearing the news about him, I was trying hard to figure out what went wrong and what drove him to make such an extreme choice," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Lee went on to say that Chung's death prompted him to do some soul-searching to see if he fulfilled his role as a pastor. "I am the pastor of his church and was supposed to guide his soul when he was suffering. I felt guilty and full of remorse for I was not there when he was struggling for his life and let such an incident happen."

Chung (1957-2019) was a three-term lawmaker, one of the key aides who helped businessman-turned-politician Lee Myung-bak win the 2007 presidential election. After the election, he was eliminated in an internal power struggle and turned his back on the Lee government. He became a harsh critic of President Lee and his older brother Lee Sang-deuk. His feud with Lee is well-known and it led Chung to disclose several allegations about the president's older brother which prompted pundits to coin the famous phrase "man-sa-hyung-tong" or "power comes from the brother."

Chung is believed to have committed suicide. Details of the cause of his death were not made public but those who are familiar with the politician said he suffered from depression and had attempted suicide years before.

A note was found in his home. Details of the note were not made public. But Rep. Kim Yong-tae of the New Korea Party, who was close to Chung, told reporters that Chung wrote he was sorry to his family, citing this was what he heard from Chung's daughter who has it.

Rev. Lee said he officiated Chung's wedding last year with his second wife. His wife had never been married before, so he wanted to have a small wedding for her. "It was a warm wedding ceremony. The two families, their friends and acquaintances and Mr. Chung's daughter born to his former wife, and son-in-law attended it," recalled the pastor.
Since the wedding, Lee said he had communicated with Chung through social media and thought everything was going smoothly.

Rev. Lee said he last saw Chung on July 14 after the church service. "We said hello to each other and I told him 'I love you in God.' And I patted him on his shoulder. It became our last encounter," the pastor said.

Lee called the late Chung "a reasonable conservative politician" who tried to narrow the gap between those who have different political orientations with him through debate. "He represented healthy, constructive conservativism and thus I wished he would been given a second chance to serve (in politics)," the pastor wrote.

Pastor Lee uploaded his tribute to the late politician last Friday when Chung's funeral was held in Seoul.


Kang Hyun-kyung hkang@koreatimes.co.kr


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