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Chun Doo-hwan (born January 18, 1931) was a ROK Army general and the dictator and president of South Korea from 1980 to 1988. After the assassination of Park Chung-Hee, many South Koreans were hoping that democracy would rise in the country, until Chun was elected as a dictator. He was sentenced to death in 1996 for his heavy-handed response to the Gwangju Democratization Movement in 1980 but later pardoned by President Kim Young-sam with the advice of then President-elect Kim Dae-jung, whom Chun himself had sentenced to death some 20 years earlier.

Biography

Presidency

On 27 August, 1980, the National Conference for Unification, the nation's electoral college, gathered in Jang Choong Gymnasium. Chun was the sole candidate. Out of 2525 members, 2524 voted for Chun with 1 vote counted as invalid, thus with a tally of 99.99% in favor (it was widely speculated at that time that 1 invalid vote was purposely rigged as to differentiate Chun from North Korea's Kim Il Sung, who regularly claimed 100% support in North Korea's elections). He was officially inaugurated into office on 1 September 1980.

On 17 October, he abolished all political parties —including Park's Democratic Republican Party, which had essentially ruled the country as a one-party state since the imposition of the Yushin Constitution. In January 1981, Chun formed his own party, the Democratic Justice Party; however, for all intents and purposes, it was Park's Democratic Republican Party under another name. Soon afterward, a new constitution was enacted that, while far less authoritarian than Park's Yusin Constitution, still gave fairly broad powers to the president. He was then re-elected president by the National Conference later that January, taking 90 percent of the delegates vote against three minor candidates.

After his election in 1981, Chun completely rejected the presidency of Park, even going so far as to strike all references to Park's 1961 military coup from the constitution. Chun announced that he would be restoring justice to the government to remove the fraud and corruption of Park's tenure.

Chun's presidency occurred during the Cold War, and his foreign policies were based around combating communism not only from North Korea, but also from the Soviet Union and Communist China.

The United States put pressure on the South Korean government to abandon its plans to develop nuclear weapons.

Japanese newspapers widely reported that Chun was the de facto leader of the country months before he made any move to become President.

In 1982, Chun announced the "Korean People Harmony Democracy Reunification Program", but due to repeated rejections from North Korea the program was unable to get off the ground.

Also from 1986 to 1988, he and President Corazon Aquino of the Philippines established talks between the two countries for strengthening Philippine-South Korean economic, social and cultural friendship.

Post-presidency

In the 16 December 1987 Presidential Election, Roh Tae-woo won the election, the first honest national elections of any sort held in the country in two decades, after Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung split the popular vote. Chun finished out his term and handed the presidency to Roh on 25 February 1988.

Chun tried to publish three memoirs, but on August 4, 2017, the court cited an injunction application not to publish, sell or distribute the memoirs unless 33 expressions on May 18 Gwangju Uprising are deleted from the first volume of The Age of Chaos. Chun and his son Chun Jae-kook, who runs a publishing company, should take steps to prevent books from being sold in bookstores, and if they violate the plan, they should pay 5 million won per episode to the 5.18 Memorial Foundation. Then, in October 2017, when former President Chun re-issued 33 sections of his memoir in black ink and re-issued them, organizations filed a second lawsuit. As a result, on May 15, 2018, the Gwangju District Court again cited an injunction request. In addition to 33 false facts related to May 18 at the time of the first lawsuit, 36 contents were further recognized as false contents.

Kim Yong-jang, a former intelligence officer at the 501th Brigade of the U.S. Army on March 14, 2019, was found to be a witness for the first in 39 years. "On May 21, 1980, Chun, fired near the Jeonil Building in the heart of Gwangju and in Yanglim-dong, upstream of Gwangju. The helicopter aircraft I used at that time was remembered as UH-1H and the machine gun as M60 and reported so."I have testified. Then again, this is an obvious fact. Soon after the former president returned to Seoul by helicopter, a mass shooting and shooting took place in front of the Gwangju Metropolitan Government, and delivered the information to the U.S. defense department.

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