Chun will not be buried in National Cemetery: Veterans Ministry

Home > National > Politics

print dictionary print

Chun will not be buried in National Cemetery: Veterans Ministry

Members of the public line the street outside the Severance Hospital morgue in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, to pay their respects to deceased former President Chun Doo Hwan on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

Members of the public line the street outside the Severance Hospital morgue in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, to pay their respects to deceased former President Chun Doo Hwan on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

 
The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday that former President Chun Doo Hwan cannot be buried in the National Cemetery for his role in the military's suppression of the Gwangju pro-democracy protests in 1980.
 
Referring to Article 5 of the National Cemetery Act, which excludes individuals from burial in the National Cemetery if that person served a prison sentence for sedition, the ministry said that Chun, a former military strongman and dictator, was disqualified from burial in the prestigious resting place for veterans, independence activists and prominent political leaders.
 
Unlike Roh Tae-woo, who was Chun’s successor as president and predeceased by less than a month, the government will neither be arranging a state funeral for Chun, nor sending flowers or a delegation to Chun’s funerary altar at Severance Hospital in Seodaemun District, western Seoul.
 
While expressing sympathies to Chun’s family, Blue House spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee did note Chun’s lack of public contrition before his death.
 
Although Roh lent crucial support for the December 1979 coup d’etat which allowed Chun, his former classmate at the Korea Military Academy, to seize de facto control over the country, Roh also restored direct voting in presidential elections in response to mass protests after he was announced as the presidential candidate for Chun’s Democratic Justice Party.
 
Later in life and in his will, Roh also expressed remorse for his role in Korea’s violent political history.
 
The contrast in attendance at the funerals of Roh, who was buried with full state honors at the end of last month, and Chun, whose family set up a private funerary altar at Severance Hospital, was stark.
 
While both Roh’s family and state funerals drew a large number of people from across the political spectrum — including prominent figures from the government, the ruling Democratic Party, main opposition People Power Party (PPP) and family representatives of those killed during the suppression of the Gwangju protests, which he abetted — Chun’s family funeral was avoided by even PPP lawmakers, whose party descends from Chun’s Democratic Justice Party.
 
The political reaction to the deaths of the two former presidents suggests that Roh’s public reputation was rehabilitated in his post-presidency years to a degree that Chun’s never was, despite both men being convicted and imprisoned for committing bribery and sedition during their time in power.
 
Prominent visitors to Chun’s funerary altar on Tuesday were mostly those who had been closely aligned with him during his time in power, including his old party’s leader Lee Young-il and retired General Koh Myung-seung, a former member of the Hanahoe, an unofficial clique of military officers headed by Chun that was instrumental in his 1979 coup.
 
Jang Se-dong, former head of the National Security Planning Department, which conducted domestic surveillance operations under Chun, also paid his respects to Chun. Jang refused to answer any questions from reporters outside the morgue.
 
Outside the morgue, a civic group associated with the Gwangju protests staged a protest holding signs which read, “Even now, Chun Doo Hwan and members of the Fifth Republic regime should repent and apologize.”
 
The Fifth Republic refers to the authoritarian political order set up with the passage of the 1981 constitution under Chun, which replaced the Yushin Constitution instituted under President Park Chung Hee in 1972.
 
Park’s daughter, former President Park Geun-hye who was impeached in 2017, sent a condolence wreath to the morgue, as did her predecessor Lee Myung-bak and former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
s
lock icon

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

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now