Aides: Former President To Surrender Wealth, Leave Seoul
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Former President Chun Doo-hwan, under attack for alleged involvement in corruption, will surrender most of his wealth and retire from Seoul in an effort to allay mounting public criticism, aides said today.
Also today, a four-day parliamentary hearing opened into Chun’s role in suppressing a bloody uprising in the southern city of Kwangju in 1980.
One aide to Chun, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the ex-president will hold a news conference early next week to announce his decision to leave Seoul after turning over most of his wealth to the government.
″He will make a public apology, give up most of his wealth and live in seclusion somewhere in the countryside,″ the aide said.
Another aide, also demanding anonymity, said Chun would live in an isolated, rented house in central South Korea, instead of going to his hometown in a southern province, where he is no longer welcome.
Living in seclusion in the countryside is a traditional Korean way of repentence for disgraced leaders.
The Hankook Ilbo, a mass circulation newspaper, quoting an unidentified government source, said if Chun takes the action, President Roh Tae-woo is expected to pardon him.
Widespread protests have broken out in the past two months urging the arrest and punishment of Chun for alleged corruption and human rights violations. Chun, a former general, took power in 1980 and left office in February. Roh, his handpicked successor, was elected to replace him.
Nine members of Chun’s family, including two brothers, have been arrested on corruption charges. Chun is accused of amassing a fortune and sending parts of it for investment in the United States and Australia.
It was not known how wealthy Chun is, but an earlier estimate put the total at $6 million, including a $1.4 million home in Seoul.
The National Assembly probe, which opened today, is considering Chun’s role in putting down a civil uprising in the southern city of Kwangju in 1980.
Opposition leader Kim Dae-jung testified that the revolt was a decoy plotted by Chun and his military associates to seize power in the chaotic days that followed the assassination of President Park Chung-hee in late 1979.
Kim also accused the United States ″of taking a bystander’s role″ in the uprising. By official count, 194 people were killed and more than 800 injured in the nine-day Kwangju uprising, the worst in modern South Korean history.
Kim, president of the main opposition Party for Peace and Democracy, and retired Gen. Lee Hui-sung, the former martial law commander, were the first to testify before the parliamentary committee.
Also called to testify were 25 people, including Chun.