Former South Korean military dictator Chun Doo-hwan died at the age of 90, just weeks before the upcoming election for the nation’s president.
Chun, who ruled from June 1979 to August 1981, died in a Seoul hospital on Saturday. He never expressed regrets for his dictatorship.
“Being elected President (of Korea) has not surpassed my word of victory,” Chun said in an interview with the Financial Times in April, saying he would have been “overjoyed” to take power again.
He was believed to have enjoyed support from China during his dictatorship and, for some time, operated a kangaroo court system, where political opponents were put to death. The back-and-forth between the two countries is still strong today.
Chun once famously called North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, “the good dictator” for his consistency and continuation of the country’s “correct path” of reclusive government.
Shows of support for Kim Jong-un are common in South Korea, even with the personality cult surrounding him.
The won rose around 2.4 percent to end at around 1,121 in Seoul.
Chun, the father of two sons who later held political posts, was nicknamed “Joohui,” or “Sixth Son” in English. “Seventh Son” was later adopted.
He was born in Shanghai and studied law at the University of Southern California. His father was commander of South Korea’s armed forces and assassinated during the Korean War.
Chun and his military allies are credited with ending the war. He was later ousted by his democratic supporters.
According to The Economist, he found North Korea on August 8, 1981, after taking control in a bloodless coup.
“He accused his predecessors and allies of presiding over Korea’s economic and social misery, and vowed to redistribute wealth and advance the nation’s welfare. On February 15, 1983, he declared that the campaign would continue. Throughout that year, the constitution was suspended, former senior officials were forced to resign and state workers were thrown into prison.
Among the people sentenced to death was Im Tong-seok, the former head of the National Police Agency. He was found guilty of excessive spending, fraud and an attempt to sell all official documents.
Like Kim Jong-il, who was then known as Kim Jong-Un, Im was awarded both a bouquet of flowers by officials and a police uniform for being in charge of the most important police agency in the country. Kim died a week after being sentenced to death by a court in 2000.
Upon returning to Seoul, Chun visited the North’s then capital, Pyongyang, and met with the reclusive Kim Jong-il to express the “same will to make the nation love its leaders,” as now.
Kim Jong-il passed the title of “supreme leader” to his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, who has continued the “inner power” cult.
Chun is survived by his wife and two sons, both military officers.