|The mother of a Gwangju citizen who died after being shot by soldiers during the military's suppression of 1980 Gwangju pro-democracy movement, cries at the grave of her son in the May 18th National Cemetery in Gwangju, Wednesday, a day after Chun Doo-hwan, a military general who led the suppression and seized power in a military coup that year, died. Yonhap|
By Jung Da-min
The death of Chun Doo-hwan, a military general who had seized power in the military coup of 1979, has produced different reactions from the public compared to the deaths of other political heavyweights or former leaders of the country.
The majority of the public expressed anger or criticism for Chun's refusal to apologize for the brutal military suppression of the 1980 pro-democracy movement in Gwangju, remaining unrepentant for the past 41 years until his death on Tuesday.
Yet some far-right organizations have said that Chun had shown great leadership while serving as the country's president from 1980 to 1988 in developing the country's economy, but such voices have been outnumbered by those criticizing Chun for the damage he did to the country's democracy. Many civic organizations and political parties have criticized Chun's unrepentance, without visiting his memorial altar to offer their condolences.
Members of a civic organization that has been attempting to bring to light Chun's wrongdoings held a press conference in front of Severance Hospital in Seoul's Seodaemun District, where his memorial altar was set up, Tuesday, and vowed to continue its activities to reveal the historical truth of Chun's suppression of democracy.
|Members of a civic group hold a press conference in front of Severance Hospital, Seoul, Tuesday, after the death of former President Chun Doo-hwan earlier in the day. They said they would continue their activities to reveal the truth of Chun's suppression of democracy and other wrongdoings, regardless of his death. Yonhap|
"We had urged Chun to issue an apology, hoping that he would repent, but he died without a single sincere expression of apology. He left people angered about his unrepentance for the violence and atrocities that took place under him from 1980 to 1988," members of the civic organization said. "The death of Chun does not mean that all the criminal acts committed by him and his aides or the truth of history will disappear."
Lawyers for a Democratic Society, or Minbyun, said in a statement that it is regretful that Chun died without taking any responsibility for the human rights violations he had committed.
"His family members or aides who are alive, will have to do what they can do," the group said. "They should apologize to the victims (of Chun's wrongdoings)."
These dominating voices of criticism against Chun are quite different from those seen after the deaths of other political heavyweights whose careers had created historical controversies, including former President Roh Tae-woo, who died in late October. Roh helped Chun's military coup and violent suppression of the 1980 Gwangju pro-democracy movement but apologized over his wrongdoings before his death. There were intense debates over his merits and demerits as a leader, but many politicians visited Roh's funeral to offer condolences.
But some political figures showed their condolences for Chun's death, saying that his achievements should also be remembered.
On early Wednesday morning, a far-right organization installed a temporary memorial altar for Chun in front of the Bosingak bell pavilion in Seoul's Jongno District, without permission from the district office. Officials of the district office removed it about two hours later for violating related road rules.
|Members of the extra-parliamentary far-right Our Republican Party queue to visit the memorial altar of former President Chun Doo-hwan to offer their condolences, at Severance Hospital, Seoul, Wednesday, a day after Chun's death. Joint Press Corps|