The last general to become president of South Korea, Roh Tae-woo, has died at 88. The soldier played an essential role in a coup in 1979 that brought General Chun Doo-hwan to power.
Roh served that leader as Minister of Sports and Home Affairs, among other things. He was later convicted for his role in Chun’s regime.
Roh became Chun’s most likely successor and a candidate for president in the 1988 elections. He won the election and remained president until 1993. He made efforts to democratize the country and established contacts with North Korea in 1989 and 1991.
That led to a statement in which the two countries promised not to attack each other. The two Koreas also signed a nuclear deal. As a result, all US nuclear weapons disappeared from South Korea.
Roh was sentenced to 17 years in prison and a hefty fine in 1996 for his role in the 1979 coup and in the regime that followed. These included corruption and the bloody crushing of a 1980 uprising in Gwangju. However, he was pardoned as early as 1997.