South Korea’s fifth president Chun Doo-hwan, 90, died of a cardiac arrest in his home in Seoul on Tuesday.
Chun was president of South Korea from 1980 to 1988 after seizing power in a military coup.
Chun’s reign was marked by the 1980 Gwangju army massacre of pro-democracy protesters, a crime he was later convicted of a commuted death sentence.
“I am sure that I would take the same action, if the same situation arose,” Chun told the court during his mid-1990s trial, saying the coup was necessary to save the nation from a political crisis.
In 1995, Chun was arrested, charged, and later found guilty of mutiny, treason, and bribery and was sentenced to death.
In 1997, Chun was pardoned and freed from jail by President Kim Young-sam to promote “national unity.”
Chun never apologized for the 1980 Gwangju massacre of pro-democracy protesters.
“He did not reflect on and apologize to the people until the last minute for a crime that killed at least hundreds of people, usurped state power for his private desires, and could never be forgiven,” Lee Jae-Myung, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, said.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Chun would unlikely be given a state funeral.
Chun had multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that was in remission.
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