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  • 작성자 사진Kim Min-ji

[Issue] The Death of Roh Tae-woo, the Last President of the Military Regime

No. 155 / Dec 6, 2021

President Roh Tae-woo died on October 12, 2021. He was the president of the Sixth Republic of Korea who served as a bridge from the military regime to a civilian government. Therefore, democratic elements and remnants of the military regime existed simultaneously in his government. From this we can explore his achievements and faults.

Roh Tae-woo established himself as the second-largest force in the new military by deploying troops he led in Seoul. At the end of Chun Doo-hwan’s mandate, No.1 in the Hana Club, which was secretly formed by the 11th graders of the Korean Military, and president of the Fifth Republic, public sentiment against the new military forces was about to explode. In response, Roh Tae-woo announced the June 29 Declaration, accepting the system of direct presidential election, which was the people’s greatest desire. Roh Tae-woo, who was elected president in the 13th with a direct presidential election system, removed officials from the 5th Republic of the government once he was elected. He also focused on enhancing the freedom of media, one of the means to guarantee the right to know. He succeeded in establishing diplomatic relations with 13 communist countries and pressured North Korea, which relied on the help of communist countries. As a result, South Korea attained superiority in relations with North Korea and succeeded in applying the principle of self-determination, which excludes interference from other countries in diplomatic relations between the two Koreas. Wealth was redistributed through the expansion of social security measures, such as the introduction of national medical insurance, the national pension system, the minimum wage system, and the annual salary system. Last, he declared a war on crime, and from this, the current state of security was made. However, he not only built merits. Abusing his command, he participated in the Coup d'état of December 12 coup and advocated the democratization of government, but still failed to remove the appearance of the military regime. The Hana Club still existed, and he created the Cheongmyeong Plan and collected information about the families of his opponents among the major figures and politicians in various fields for arrest in case martial law was declared. He received slush funds from major companies and gave some of it to Kim Dae-jung and Kim Young-sam under the name of political funds.

In 1996, Kim Young-sam, the 14th president, had Roh Tae-woo arrested, and he was sentenced to 17 years in prison and fined 262.8 billion won after being found guilty of Coup d'état of December and May 18 bloody suppression. Although it took some time, his fine was paid in full in 2013. He is a person with both achievements and faults. However, he was the only person in the New Military Department to apologize to the victims of the Gwangju Uprising, and by paying the fine in full, he met the minimum requirement of conscience for the people and expressed his regret. Let us thus critique Roh Tae-woo, the last president of the military regime, based on the materials mentioned above.


By Kim Min-ji, AG reporter

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