Before he became president, Chun was a general. He came to power after the coup of 1979. The coup led to mass protests in the country at that time.
After his presidency, several parliamentary committees investigated the abuse of power and corruption during Chun’s tenure. His role in the bloody suppression of the 1980 uprising in Gwangju has been under discussion. Thousands of students are believed to have died during this uprising. According to the South Korean opposition, this rebellion was provoked by Chun to become president.
Chun was succeeded in 1988 by Roh Tae-woo, who would be the last military president of South Korea. In a major trial in 1995, dubbed “the lawsuit of the century” by local media, Chun and Roh were found guilty of rebellion, treason and bribery.
The death penalty
Chun was sentenced to death. However, the Seoul High Court commuted this sentence to imprisonment due to the economic progress of South Korea under Chun’s rule and for the peaceful transfer of power to Roh. In 1997, their successor Kim Young-sam pardoned the two former presidents in an effort to create “national unity”.
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