President’s brother is sentenced; artist diesSept. 5, 1988
One of the more common illegal practices during the military governments of the 1970s and 80s involved claiming to have a Blue House or a national intelligence official as a close acquaintance ― fear of retribution would allow that claimant to get away with just about anything, so one can assume what sort of power an actual blood relative possessed.
Chun Kyung-hwan, the younger brother of former president Chun Doo Hwan, was a man who knew he had that power, and used it. By the time his big brother left the Blue House in 1988, the younger Chun was at the center of various allegations of massive embezzlement and misappropriation of state funds. On this date, a Seoul court sentenced Mr. Chun to seven years in prison and fined him 3.2 billion won ($3.1 million).
Mr. Chun had been indicted on seven charges related to his former top position at the Saemaul Movement Headquarters, an office for a state-run project to modernize the country from 1970 till the end of the 80s.
Saemaul was a government-driven project, introduced by then-President Park Chung Hee, focused on reducing rural poverty. For most Koreans at the time, when the annual per capita income was a mere 87 dollars, this was the stuff of dreams.
In line with the project, the government urged people to renovate their houses into western-style homes. Neighborhoods had to be kept clean, while phrases such as “good Saemaul children wake up early (to study, to work and so on)” were promoted. There were also countless fund raisers, held supposedly to support Saemaul projects.
In 1980, when Chun Doo Hwan entered the Blue House, a private organization was established to continue the Saemaul project ― the Saemaul Movement Headquarters ― and Chun Kyung-hwan was placed in charge, a post he kept for seven years.
Many asked what qualifications Mr. Chun had for the job, apart from being the brother of the president. As expected, the headquarters turned out to be less like a center for dedicated public servants and more something like a pirate fortress, in which the rule of law was ignored. With over 1,300 officials and 8.9 million people as members, the office ran profitable businesses, such as investing in Yeongjong island in the Yellow Sea.
Mr. Chun denied most of the charges against him, but the court found him guilty. However, he did not serve his full sentence ― in 1991, after 2 years and 10 months in prison, former President Roh Tae-woo released him from prison as part of an amnesty to celebrate Roh’s third year in power.
Sept. 6, 1978
Noh Su-hyeon, one of Korea's renowned painters of Eastern art, died on this date at the age of 79.
Born in 1899, Mr. Noh, known by the nom de plume Sim San, lived in a time when western-style painting arrived in the country through Japan. He drew mountain scenery in the style of the late Joseon Dynasty artists, however, elaborating the mountains and rocks in detail.
He also worked as a cartoonist for Korea's earlier newspapers, the Dong-A Ilbo and the Chosun Ilbo. His comic strips were popular, often the first thing people looked for in the paper.
The name of his comic series was “Meongteong-guri,” and it revolved around a military official named Meongteong (dumb) and his friend Baram (womanizer) who were head over heels in love with a Korean gisaeng named Okmae. The comic strip was published until 1940, and was even made into a movie.
A nationalist researcher, however, announced recently that Mr. Noh was guilty of depicting pro-Japanese ideas. The Institute for Research in Collaborationist Activities said it would disclose several excerpts from “Meongteong-guri” at its exhibition to showcase pro-Japanese art work.
The group said one of his cartoons claimed, “we should at least learn to drive to help (Japan) during war time.” Another showed an adult getting a child to follow Japanese exercises by giving him a piece of caramel.
by Lee Min-a