NATIONAL

Ex-President Chun golf video sparks uproar

By Choi Si-young

Disgraced ex-president skipped defamation trial claiming dementia

  • Published : Nov 10, 2019 - 18:02
  • Updated : Nov 10, 2019 - 18:16

Video footage of former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan playing golf, who has been avoiding attending a defamation trial claiming dementia, has sparked public anger.

Fmr Pres. Chun (front) seen playing golf in Gangwon Province. Image taken from video footage by Justice Party's Vice Chairman Lim Han-sol (far left) (Yonhap)

He has been accused of defaming late Rev. Cho Bi-oh regarding the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising.

Justice Party Vice Chairman Lim Han-sol on Friday released a video clip of Chun playing golf with his companions.

Civic groups, including the May 18 Memorial Foundation, immediately released a statement condemning Chun.

“This is an insult and mockery of history. We can’t really tell how outraged we are now,” read the statement.

“Chun has cited dementia as an excuse to avoid the trial. But the footage clearly reveals that’s false. The court shouldn’t be lenient.”

Political parties stroke a similar chord.

“The claim that Chun can’t attend the ongoing hearing is a lie. The court should force him to come to the trial,” said ruling Democratic Party spokesperson Lee Hae-sik.

“Chun has abandoned the last modicum of decency. He should sit the court hearings, not enjoy at a golf course,” said Kim Jung-hwa, spokesperson of minor conservative Bareunmirae Party.

The Justice Party concurred, saying Chun has deceived both the public and court and urged the court or prosecution “to exhaust all avenues to deliver justice.”

The ruling Liberty Korea Party refrained from commenting.

Chun is accused of writing false accounts about the May 18 pro-democracy protests in his memoir published in 2017.

He denied claims by witnesses that the government mobilized helicopters to shoot at protesters and called the late Rev. Cho Bi-oh, who said he saw the helicopter attacks, a “shameless liar.”

Indicted last year on libel charges, Chun attended one hearing in Gwangju in March and has since skipped all hearings citing dementia.

For Chun’s next hearing on Monday, he and his attorney have called in witnesses -- retired military officials on duty during the movement -- to substantiate his argument that there was no shooting. 

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)