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Ex-president Roh Tae-woo remembered as one of most controversial figures in S. Korean history Updated: 2021-10-27 08:11:07 KST

Former South Korean president Roh Tae-woo was born in 1932 in a small mountainside village in Daegu.
He didn't stand out much as a child, nor did he excel academically.
But when he first joined the military in 1950 as the Korean War broke out, he took his first step toward what later led to his presidency.
In 1951 he joined the Korea Military Academy, a prestigious institution that fosters elite military personnel.
There, he befriended Chun Doo-hwan, who would later become the infamous South Korean dictator who overthrew the government in a coup in 1979 and ordered a military crackdown on protesters, killing several hundreds.
All the while, Roh Tae-woo stood by Chun's side as his closest aide.
Roh was due to be named as Chun's successor,.. but then the "June Struggle" broke out, with nationwide uproar calling for democratic reforms.
Roh Tae woo had no choice but to push for democratic change.
In 1987, he and his party members drafted a new constitution which included the provision to change the presidential election into a direct election by popular vote.
During the election campaign, odds seemed to be stacked against Roh, with many voicing their distaste for his ties to the Chun administration.
But Roh campaigned himself as an "average joe" and he went on to win, albeit by a slim margin with 36 percent of the votes.
From 1988 to 1993, Roh strived to achieve peace with North Korea and carved out friendly diplomatic relationships with many countries as South Korea's 13th president.
But in 1995, two years after his term had ended there were allegations of him illegally obtaining public funds.
He was subsequently arrested and tried on charges of corruption, along with mutiny and treason, for his past involvement with dictator Chun Doo-wan.
The Supreme Court sentenced him to 17 years in prison, but in 1997 he was pardoned by president Kim Young-sam upon the request of president-elect Kim Dae-jung.
With his life having come to an end at age 88, Roh Tae woo remains one of the most controversial yet influential figures in South Korean political history.
He laid the groundwork for the democratic nation that South Korea is today, but also orchestrated military crackdowns.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News
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