Family, friends, politicians mark Roh’s anniversary
The former president killed himself on May 23, 2009 by jumping off a cliff in his hometown of Bongha village weeks after prosecutors began an investigation into allegations that he and his family received at least $5 million from Park Yeon-cha, former chairman of Taekwang Industrial and a longtime patron for Roh.
A memorial next to Roh’s tomb in Bongha village began at 1:30 p.m., and it attracted over 15,000 visitors, including Grand National Party floor leader Kim Moo-sung, Democratic Labor Party head Kang Ki-kab and Public Administration and Security Minister Maeng Hyung-kyu. The ceremony was presided over by popular comedian Kim Jae-dong.
A video clip on Roh’s legacy was played and a memorial poem and memorial addresses were read by former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan and poet Do Jong-hwan.
“I can’t help but grieve for what happened just a year ago,” said Roh Geon-ho, son of the late former president, who spoke for Roh’s family. “But I’m asking you [my father] to forget about the tragedy that happened a year ago and remember the path you traversed and wanted to pursue. I also want to thank you people who share the grief and sadness with us.”
The ceremony that lasted for one hour and 40 minutes and concluded after some 100 visitors set 523 butterflies free.
Roh’s tomb site was opened to the public and visitors placed flowers on it. Over 15,000 granite stones surround Roh’s tomb and each stone has an engraved message on its face.
Kim Gyeong-su, Roh’s former secretary, is director general of the Bongha Foundation, which organized the memorial. He said over 30,000 people visited Bongha village.
“So many people came to Bongha village today,” said Han Myeong-sook, a former prime minister who is running for Seoul mayor for the June 2 local elections. “I want to achieve his unfulfilled dream by winning the local election.”
A concert to remember Roh was held in Seoul Plaza in central Seoul from 6 p.m. yesterday and attracted 5,000 visitors. The event was broadcast live to Busan University, where residents gathered.
Police estimated over 3,000 visitors paid their respects at a temporary mourning altar set up in front of Daehanmun of Deoksu Palace near the Seoul’s City Hall.
By Hwang Sun-yoon, Kim Mi-ju [email@example.com]