Moon angers competitors with Chun reference

Home > National > Politics

print dictionary print

Moon angers competitors with Chun reference

Presidential frontrunner Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party has been in hot water over the past few days for his remark made during a televised debate on Sunday in which he remembered winning a citation from then-brigade commander Chun Doo Hwan for his military service as a Special Forces soldier in the mid 1970s.

Moon’s remark sparked immediate protest and criticism from his primary rivals, South Chungcheong Governor An Hee-jung and Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung, hoping to make Jeolla voters turn on Moon with the DP’s primary election in Gwangju only five days away from Wednesday.

It was during Moon’s debate with An, Lee and Goyang Mayor Choi Sung that he made the remark. When asked about a moment of importance in his life, Moon showed a photo taken in 1975 of himself in Special Forces uniform in an apparent attempt to appeal to national security-conscious voters.

“It was during this time that I came into my own in terms of principles of national security and well being of the state,” he said. “I was also awarded the military citation from then-brigade commander Chun Doo Hwan, who later became head of the rebellion forces [in a military coup in 1979].”

Chun is deeply reviled in Gwangju and much of Jeolla region for his bloody crackdown on the May 18 Gwangju uprising for democracy in 1980. The military government’s cruel response left 154 dead, 70 missing and 1,628 injured, according to the May 18 Memorial Foundation.

The timing of the controversy comes as the DP is set to hold a primary election next Monday for party members as well as those without DP affiliations in the Jeolla region.

Moon’s competitors have all criticized his remark.

“Moon should have been more careful in choosing his words considering the traumatic experiences people in Jeolla suffered under Chun Doo Hwan,” said Mayor Lee. “I would like Moon to offer his apology for the remark.”

On Monday, Moon likened their criticism to an “affront” to his dignity as a former human rights lawyer who fought against Chun’s military regime.

“I have lived my whole life dedicated to the country’s democracy and defending human rights as a lawyer alongside people in Gwangju,” he said. “Such attacks against me are an affront to me as a person.”

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

More in Politics

Travel ban on former vice minister may be CIO's first case

Yoon's popularity plummets as clash with gov't ends

Ruling party's race for Seoul mayor heats up

Confirmation hearing

Police apologize for misleading public on alleged assault case

Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now