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Chun Doo-hwan, leader of the Dec. 12, 1979 military coup and brutal suppressor of the Gwangju Uprising of May 18, 1980, died on Tuesday, Nov. 23. He was 90.
A representative of Chun's family told the Hankyoreh that Chun died at his home in Seoul’s Yeonhui neighborhood at 8:45 on Tuesday.
He never apologized for his crimes. Until the end of his days, he continued to live a comfortable life of a rich man in retirement. The forces behind him - the army and intelligence where the ultra-conservatives still rule the roost - were strong enough to preclude any attempts to seriously make him responsible for what he did. Lots of what happened during his rule - including the catastrophe of a South Korean plane in 1987 declared "North Korean terrorist act", which helped his anointed successor to overtake the presidency - remain unexplained. Well, all these things point to the limitations of South Korean democratization. Although, of course, there is no such thing as a perfect democracy....