Chun’s Opponents Say Apology Not Enough
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Political foes of former President Chun Doo-hwan said Wednesday they want a full investigation of his time in office, not just his ″insufficient″ apology for corruption and abuse of power.
Radical students held campus and street protests after Chun’s televised apology from his home Wednesday morning. About 50 tried to rush the house armed with firebombs an steel rods.
The 56-year-old former general, who seized power in 1980 and left office in February, said he would surrender $24 million and go into rural exile, a traditional form of penance for Korean leaders.
Opposition leader Kim Dae-jung said he felt Chun was ″personally sincere″ in the apology but it fell short of public expectations. He and others said it was not enough.
On television, Chun said in a grim voice: ″My dear people, I am really sorry. I have to bear full responsibility for the past seven years, which is branded by the people as an era of authoritarianism and misdeeds, although I tried to do my best in my way.″
Looking tired and strained, he apologized for corruption and and other scandals and offered to surrender his personal property, including a $1.4 million house, two golf club memberships and $3.3 million in cash. Chun also said he would return the equivalent of about $20 million in political funds.
He and his wife, Lee Soon-ja, left their home after the speech for rural exile.
They spent the first day at a remote Buddhist temple in eastern South Korea. News reports said the couple would stay in a nearby village for a time, but would have to move periodically because of threats by radical groups to punish Chun.
Government sources, not identified, were quoted in newspaper reports as saying President Roh Tae-woo was expected to issue a statement soon asking the nation to forgive his predecessor. They also were quoted as saying Roh wanted to meet with opposition leaders.
Kim Dae-jung said the National Assembly should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations about Chun, his family and associates. Kim is president of the Party for Peace and Democracy, the main political opposition.
He said Chun should appear before investigating committees and ″make public in a manner convincing to the people″ how he acquired and spent political funds, which Kim said amounted to ″billions of dollars.″
Another opposition leader, Kim Young-sam, joined the call for a special prosecutor. ″The truth must be clearly disclosed regardless of such an apology,″ he said.
Contrasting views of Chun’s apology came from a young woman who is an office clerk and an elderly one working as a street vendor.
″He looked pitiful and we may forgive him,″ said Kim Un-knyong, 26. ″I think we have done enough and it is good for the nation to close the case now.″
The peddler said: ″I hate him. I don’t trust whatever he says. ... The figure he is talking about is something astronomical, which we can only dream of.″
Some of the 5,000 police ringing the neighborhood of Chun’s home drove the attacking students away. The Chuns already had left.
About 200 students at Seoul National University fought riot police for an hour with firebombs and rocks, demanding the former president be arrested on corruption and othe charges.
Peaceful street marches were reported in Kwangju and Taejon.
Chun asked for forgiveness in his television speech, but said he would accept the people’s judgment. He asked to be allowed to remain in South Korea.
″I deeply repent my sins,″ he said. ″I’m ready to face any sufferings and will not shirk responsibility for the results of my deeds.″
He denied sending money out of the country.
″I don’t have a piece of land or a penny abroad,″ Chun declared. ″If I have any undeclared wealth abroad, I will take any punishment.″
The former president has denied personal corruption, but some of his relatives and associates have been convicted of or charged with embezzlement and other crimes.
He apologized for the dismissal of government officials and journalists when he seized power, the deaths of opposition supporters sent to internment camps and the corruption of people associated with him.
Chun made a special apology for the bloody suppression of a 1980 uprising in the southern city of Kwangju. About 200 people were killed and more than 800 injured, by official count, but other estimates put the casualties much higher.