Roh Moo-hyun

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Roh Moo-hyun
노무현
Roh Moo-hyun 3.jpg
9th President of the Republic of Korea
In office
25 February 2003 – 24 February 2008
Prime Minister Goh Kun
Lee Hae-chan
Han Myung-sook
Han Duck-soo
Preceded by Kim Dae-jung
Succeeded by Lee Myung-bak
Personal details
Born (1946-09-01)1 September 1946
Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea
Died 23 May 2009(2009-05-23) (aged 62)
Yangsan Busan University Hospital, Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea
Political party Unified Party (1988–1990)
Democratic Party (1990–1997)
Millennium Democratic Party (1997–2003)
Uri Party (2003–2007)
Spouse(s) Kwon Yang-sook
Religion Lapsed Catholic[1][2]
Signature
Military service
Allegiance  South Korea
Service/branch Republic of Korea Army
Rank ROK Army Sangbyeong.png Sangbyeong
Korean name
Hangul
Hanja
Revised Romanization No Mu-hyeon
McCune–Reischauer No Muhyŏn

Roh Moo-hyun (Hangul: 노무현; hanja: 盧武鉉; Korean pronunciation: [no mu hjʌn]) GOM (1 September 1946 – 23 May 2009) was the ninth President of the Republic of Korea (2003–2008). Roh's pre-presidential political career was focused on human rights advocacy for student activists in South Korea. His electoral career later expanded to a focus on overcoming regionalism in South Korean politics, culminating in his election to the presidency. He achieved a large following among younger internet users, particularly at the website OhMyNews, which aided his success in the presidential election.[3][4]

Roh's election was notable for the arrival in power of a new generation of Korean politicians, the so-called 386 Generation, (i.e. people in their thirties when the term was coined, who had attended university in the 1980s, and who were born in the 1960s).[5][6] This generation had been veterans of student protests against authoritarian rule, and advocated a conciliatory approach towards North Korea, even at the expense of good relations with the USA.[7]

Despite high initial hopes,[8] his presidency encountered strong opposition from the conservative Grand National Party and media. They constantly accused him of incompetence, and insulting criticism was frequently published in the media.[9] As a result, many of Roh's policies, including a plan to move the capital, and a plan to form a coalition with the opposition, were also attacked and made no progress.

After leaving office, Roh returned to his hometown of Bongha Maeul. The constantly growing numbers of visits by his political supporters[10] were seen as a threat to the Grand National Party. Fourteen months later, Roh was suspected of bribery by prosecutors, and the subsequent investigation attracted public attention. This scandal, the collapse of the "Pro-Roh faction" of politicians,[11] the collapse of the Uri Party and the defeat of its successor the Democratic Party in the National Assembly, and the defeat of Roh's designated successor in the presidential elections, marked a decline in the political fortunes of the 386 Generation that had brought Roh to power.[12]

Roh committed suicide on 23 May 2009 by jumping from a mountain cliff behind his home named "Bueong-i Bawi" (lit. "Owl's Rock"), after leaving a suicide note on his personal computer.[13] About 4 million people have visited Roh's hometown named "Bongha Village" for a week after his death. His suicide was confirmed by police.[14]

Personal background[edit]

Roh Moo-hyun and Kwon Yang-sook at the 2006 APEC gala dinner with President Vladimir Putin of Russia (centre) and George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush (right)

Roh Moo-Hyun was born into a poor farming family on 6 August 1946, in Bongha village near Gimhae and Busan, in southeastern South Korea. His parents had three boys and two girls, and Roh was the youngest of his family. In 1953, he entered Dae Chang elementary school. He received high grades, but was quite often absent from school to assist his parents.[15] While in sixth grade, with the encouragement of his school teacher, he became the president of the school. As he entered Jin-yeong middle school, a writing contest was held to commemorate Syngman Rhee's birthday. Roh tried to start a student movement against it, but was caught and suspended from the school.[16]

Roh Moo-Hyun decided to become a lawyer due to the influence of his elder brother who had studied law but had died in a car accident. Roh studied on his own to pass the bar exam in 1975 (South Korea does not currently require bar examinees to have graduated from college, university, or law school). In 1977, he became a regional judge in Daejeon, but quit in 1978, and became a lawyer.

In 1981, he defended students who had been tortured for suspicion of possession of contraband literature. Following this he decided to become a human rights lawyer. In early 2003, he was quoted as saying, "After that defense, my life was totally changed. At first, even I couldn't believe that they had been tortured that harshly. However, when I saw their horrified eyes and their missing toenails, my comfortable life as a lawyer came to an end. I became a man that wanted to make a difference in the world." With fellow human rights lawyers, he pointed out that this case was forged, then claimed that the National Security Act (South Korea) itself should be judged.

In 1985 he started to participate in civic movements by assuming permanent power of attorney on behalf of the Busan council of citizen democracy.[16] He opposed the autocratic regime in place at the time in South Korea, and participated in the pro-democracy June Democracy Movement in 1987 against Chun Doo-hwan.[17] The same year he was jailed while investigating the cause of death of the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering factory worker Lee Seok-Kyu, who had been killed by a stray police tear gas bullet while on strike. Roh was accused of 'unapproved interference in the case' and 'hindering the funeral'. Although he was released in twenty days because of public opinion against the arrest, his lawyer's license was revoked after the incident in political retribution.[16]

Early political career[edit]

Roh entered politics in 1988 when he was invited by Kim Young-sam to join the Democratic Reunification Party (Korean: 통일민주당). That same year, he was elected as a member of the National Assembly, representing Dong-gu, Busan. He came to wider public attention with his cross-examination of the government over political corruption allegations in a parliamentary hearing.[18]}

In 1990, Kim Young-sam merged his party with the Democratic Justice Party to form the Democratic Liberal Party, a forerunner of the Grand National Party. Roh did not participate in the party and he criticized it as "betrayal against the democracy movement".[19] In 1991, before the election of the national assembly, the Weekly Chosun posted an article that alleging that Roh was a politician with hidden wealth. Roh sued the company for defamation and won, but lost the election for his seat.[20]

Having lost his seat in the 1992 Assembly elections, he later ran for the mayorship of Busan in 1995, where he lost again. Shortly after the election, Kim Dae-jung founded the National Congress for New Politics, but Roh did not join, instead criticising the party and Kim Dae-jung[citation needed]. In 1996, he ran for the Assembly seat for Jung-gu in Seoul, losing to another future president, Lee Myung-bak.

Roh founded the new party with Lee Bu-Yeong, Lee Chul, Kim Won-Gi, and Kim Jeong-Gil, but before the presidential election, after the Democratic Liberal Party merged with the Unified Democratic Party, he decided to reconcile with Kim Dae-jung to 'bring the military government and their political heir into justice'.

Subsequently, Roh reconciled with Kim when he endorsed his candidacy in the 1997 Presidential election. At the meeting, Kim Dae-jung welcomed Roh and his party saying "Today is a very pleasant day. That pleasure is not only because we now work together, but also because I could relieve a burden in my mind that I have been carrying (since we separated)." Roh returned to office in 1998, when Lee Myung-bak resigned his seat because of a violation of election law, winning a seat in the ensuing by-election.

In 2000, Roh ran for the National Assembly representing Buk-gu and Gangseo-gu in Busan as part of a campaign to overcome regionalism in Korean politics, but was defeated. His defeat in the election, however, proved fortuitous when his supporters formed Nosamo, the first political fan club in Korea.[21] His supporters were inspired by his commitment to overcoming regionalism.[22]

In 2000, Roh was appointed Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries under Kim Dae-jung, and this position would constitute his major government experience prior to the presidency.[23]

Roh got public attention when he participated in candidate election of his party. The candidate election itself also got high public attention because it allowed the vote not only from the party members, but also the local citizens. At first, his approval rate was 10%, allowing much gap with leading candidate Lee In-Jae, but Roh constantly earned much supporters by his notable speeches, especially in Ulsan,[24] and the result of poll that Roh's approval rate was 41.7%, 1.1% higher than the Lee Hoi-chang, candidate of the opponent party, convinced the voters of his party.[25]

Roh won the presidency on 19 December 2002, by defeating Lee Hoi-chang with a narrow 2% margin of victory. At 2003, right before his inauguration, he described his plan as "I will root the method of discussion inside the government.", and added, "discussion should be familiarized until we are called 'Republic of discussion'."[26]

Presidency[edit]

First year[edit]

Roh dubbed his administration the "Participatory Government,"[27] and entered office intent on introducing an ambitious new agenda. Policy goals for the Roh administration included the continuance of the existing Sunshine Policy of engagement towards North Korea,[28] the establishment of Korea as a business hub in Northeast Asia, the expansion of social welfare, the pursuit of "balanced national development" to help underdeveloped areas, the eradication of corruption, reform of education and tax systems, reform of labor-management relations, reform of mass media, and a recasting of the relationship with the United States and Japan.[29]

As his policy for eradicating corruption inside the government had included many administrative reforms, he had to face high oppositions. During the reformation of the prosecution, to resolve the opposition, he suggested a TV forum. The prosecutors insisted that Roh appointed the major positions of the prosecutor's office without consulting the personnel committee, and the Roh answered that "The current members of the personnel committee themselves represents the old prosecution which has to be changed, if we do not change now, it would sustain the old prosecution at least few months."[30] Three months into his presidency, He commented about the opposition problem, stating "I'm worrying the opposition that maybe I cannot continue the presidency while I get that much of it." That comment was quoted partly by conservative media, ('I cannot continue the presidency') and Roh was bolstered skepticism about his ability and experience.[31] Roh set the tone of his administration with a number of adventurous policy, and measures to uncover and reveal the names of the descendants of Japanese collaborators. The investigations, criticized by opposition parties as a covert means of attacking them, and coming too late to provide substantive redress, mostly resulted in damage to his own party members.[32][33][34]

Uri Party and impeachment[edit]

Roh and his supporters left the Millennium Democratic Party in 2003 to form a new party, the Uri Party (열린우리당, lit. "Our Open Party"). Directly ahead of the National Assembly elections, Roh voiced support for the Uri Party, which constituted a technical violation of Constitutional provisions mandating presidential impartiality. When Roh refused demands to apologize, opposition lawmakers saw their chance, and on 12 March 2004, the South Korean National Assembly voted to impeach him on charges of illegal electioneering. The vote was 193–2 (Uri Party members abstained from the vote). Roh's supporters physically blocked the motion for three days in open combat, and had to be hauled out by security guards.[35] Roh's executive power was suspended pending a final decision by the Constitutional Court, and Prime Minister Goh Kun ran the country as the Acting President.

The National Assembly's attempt to impeach Roh was largely opposed by the public. From 12 March 2004, to 27 March, protest against the impeachment motion was led by 'citizen's movement for eradicating corruption'. According to the police, 50,000 people gathered to protest in 13 March alone.[36]

Although Roh's popularity had hovered around 30%, the impeachment was taken as a power struggle against the political reform and the choice of the citizen, and Roh's popularity went up soon after the assembly's vote to impeach Roh. The results of the April 2004 parliamentary election showed public support for him, with the Uri Party winning a majority of seats.

On 14 May 2004, the Constitutional Court overturned the impeachment decision, restoring Roh as President.[37] After the incident, Roh joined the Uri party as a member, officially making the Uri party as the ruling party.

After the reinstatement[edit]

As a part of his balanced national development campaign to reverse the concentration of wealth in Seoul, Roh also pursued a plan to relocate the capital 100 miles away to Chungcheong, ostensibly to relieve congestion. Roh had made this promise during his campaign, and pursued its fulfillment, despite convincing few voters outside the Chungcheong region of the benefits of the move.[38] After much controversy, the Constitutional Court obviated Roh's plans by ruling that the relocation of the capital was unconstitutional because it 'opposes the custom that has to be considered as the constitution', thus inflicting a huge blow to Roh's political standing. Roh's plan was then amended to the creation of an "administrative capital," though this plan has also not yet seen completion. The issue of the proposed "administrative capital" remains controversial as of 2010 in plans for Sejong City, the exact nature of which continues to be a politically divisive issue even within the ruling Grand National Party.

With the controversies concerning the capital, perceptions of neglect and mismanagement of the economy had grown.[39] Although exports performed at record levels and the economy grew, growth still lagged behind both the previous administration and the rest of the world, while the domestic economy stagnated.[40] At the same time regulations proliferated, investment capital exited the country,[41] unemployment (especially among the young) increased, wealthy students flocked overseas as the education system stagnated, and housing prices in Seoul soared far beyond the reach of the average citizen. Roh responded by dismissing criticism as "shameless mudslinging,"[42] and touted the achievements of his government in increasing national competitiveness, strengthening the economy.[43] This somewhat cavalier attitude led to his Uri Party suffering consecutive defeats in the Assembly, before eventually collapsing. Roh's unpopularity had become a liability for his party, and a new party was needed to disassociate from him.[44] The Uri Party would thus be revamped and renamed as the Democratic Party, and is currently the main opposition party in the National Assembly.

Roh's ambitious initial promises to establish Korea as an international business hub in Asia[45] faded soon after his election.[46][47][48][49] Instead, Korea under Roh suffered negative publicity in the foreign business community due to prosecutorial investigations on the purchase and sale of Korea Exchange Bank by the Lone Star Fund, spurring foreign investors to join their domestic counterparts in leaving the country.[50] When housing prices soared, To prevent speculative bubble like Japanese asset price bubble crisis, Roh introduced additional 1~3% of property tax on real estate exceeding 600 million won(about 600,000US$).[51] This efficiently slowed down the bubble, but this policy met high opposition by the riches who had to pay higher tax.[52] At the same time, Roh also increased welfare spending by 18% a year, and drastically increased spending by increasing the size of the civil service by more than 95,700 new hires, or approximately 60 people a day. Criticism of lax discipline among the civil service and police force was high during his government.

The remainder of Roh's term was characterized by a number of campaigns pursued to varying degrees of success and completion. One of the more successful campaigns (at least during his term) was Roh's pursuit of an FTA with the United States, concluded in April 2007 after many months of negotiations by Kim Hyun-jong, the deputy minister for trade. Roh successfully pushed for the FTA in spite of domestic opposition from his traditional leftist constituency (who denounced it as "neoliberal")[53] and various groups (particularly farmers) opposed to market opening.[54][55]

Grand coalition[edit]

As a result of the controversy concerning the capital, and public dissatisfaction of economic development, Uri party lost much of its polularity. When the Uri party was defeated in by-elections held on 30 April 2005, losing every one of the 23 electoral districts. Facing the outcome of his unpopularity, Roh took a rather strange measure to manage the government when he proposed a grand coalition with the opposition Grand National Party. Roh's rationale was that since it was impossible to continue his presidency with an approval rate of around 20 percent, a grand coalition comprising the Uri party and the Grand National Party was desirable, and that the difference between both parties in terms of political agendas was actually minute. Roh promised he would yield much of his power and might even resign from office if a grand coalition was successfully launched.

Roh's proposal for the grand coalition stirred yet another national controversy. Many called his plan "reckless and completely ignorant" of the sentiments of people still ailing from repeated political controversies and economic hardships. Many of the Uri party's supporters who identify as liberals were enraged at Roh holding that his party was not really different from the conservative opposition. The Grand National Party, enjoying relatively strong approval rate but still bent on revenge for the party's defeat in major elections, repeatedly declined to initiate a negotiation for the coalition. While the Uri Party grudgingly supported the President's proposal, a lawmaker defected from the party in protest of Roh's plan, and the loss of popularity was felt when the party suffered yet another complete defeat in the by-election on 26 October 2005, this time including one of the party's stronghold electoral districts. Roh's plan was scrapped, having failed to garner support from either political faction.

Foreign relations[edit]

United States[edit]

President Roh and Bush in October 2005

Roh was perceived as an anti-American before the presidential race, which was not a handicap during the presidential campaign. Public antipathy to the United States was prevalent in 2002, particularly evoked by the Yangju highway incident, where two South Korean middle school girls were crushed to death by a U.S. Army armored bridge-laying vehicle. The American soldiers involved were tried by a U.S. Army court martial, but the Roh administration continued to demand a South Korean trial, although the incident occurred 'on duty' (as part of a convoy) and thus was an American responsibility under the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and South Korea.

However, except for the policy toward the North Korea, Roh was supportive toward the United States. He deployed troops to Iraq in support of the U.S.-led military campaign. Roh explained the deployment as only a peacekeeping mission and claimed that such commitment was required to bring favor from the United States in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis.

In February 2006, Roh announced that South Korea would initiate negotiations with the United States for a free trade agreement.[56]

Many including Roh's former economic advisor[who?] expressed concerns that the government was acting hastily and the effect of the agreement would be detrimental to certain sectors of the nation's economy such as agriculture. Despite such opposition, Roh repeatedly supported the idea.

In April 2007, Roh presided over an emergency meeting of his aides to discuss the diplomatic fallout from the massacre at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in the United States by a South Korean student, Cho Seung-hui, concerning its negative impact on South Korea-U.S. relations.[57] They were discussing comprehensive measures to cope with the unprecedented incident, including issuance of presidential messages of apology and plans to prevent possible harassment of South Koreans living in the United States.[58] Roh issued two messages of condolence already on 17 April 2007.[59]

The former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described Roh as "probably a little crazy" in his book titled Duty, and professed astonishment at Roh telling him at the meeting in November 2007 that "the two biggest security threats in Asia were the United States and Japan".[60][61]

Japan[edit]

South Korea's relationship with Japan was in a healthy condition when Roh entered office. However, his first visit to the neighboring country in 2003 was scheduled on a date that coincided with Korean Memorial Day.

During the visit, Roh proclaimed he would not seek any more apologies from Japan over its colonial occupation, in the hope of maintaining a friendly relationship between the two countries. Although Roh's proclamation was made in good faith, some expressed concern that Japan may have interpreted this as the termination of its responsibility for the colonial past, and use it as an excuse to deny any claims for compensation that may arise in the future.

Despite Roh's hope, relations with Japan deteriorated henceforth, in several areas of conflict such as compensation issues for comfort women, denial of the colonial past in Japanese history textbooks, and disputes over the Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo/Takeshima). Another sensitive issue, former Prime Minister of Japan Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine were harshly criticized in South Korea, and Roh declared no further meetings with Koizumi would take place unless he stopped visiting the shrine.

Although being on bad terms with Japan, a very important trading and tourism partner, was not in Korea's national interest, Roh himself benefited from the disputes.[citation needed] His approval rating saw a momentary surge with every breakout of disputes, and he took advantage of the situation in a number of nationally televised speeches dealing with diplomatic issues.[citation needed]

According to Rep. Chung Mong-joon, former leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, "The Roh Moo-hyun administration proposed that the U.S. define Japan as a hypothetical enemy," at the Korea-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul in October 2005. "President Roh proposed it because the general public had bad feelings against Japan and Korea had a territorial dispute over the Dokdo islets with Japan, Washington was very embarrassed since it had hoped Korea and Japan would go hand-in-hand as free and democratic countries. A hypothetical enemy in English implies a main enemy."[62][63]

In an address to the nation on 25 April 2006 regarding disputes over the Liancourt Rocks, Roh reaffirmed that he didn't seek another apology from Japan, but demanded that Japan take action in compliance with its past apologies.[64] The speech was applauded by many Koreans despite Roh's low popularity. The then-Prime Minister of Japan Junichiro Koizumi characterized the speech as intended for domestic audiences.[65]

Retirement[edit]

After leaving office, Roh retired to Bongha Maeul, a small village in his hometown. This marked a break with previous custom, where former presidents retired to heavily guarded houses in Seoul.[66] Bongha – a village of 121 people – became a major tourist attraction due to Roh's presence.[66]

Bribery controversies[edit]

On 4 December 2008, Roh Moo-hyun's elder brother, Gun-Pyeong, was indicted on charges of illegally taking 30 million won from former Daewoo Engineering & Construction and the prosecutors put him in jail.

On 7 April 2009, Chung Sang-Moon,the former secretary of Roh Moo-hyun was arrested on charges In early 2009, allegations of corruption had begun to surface regarding the former President's family and aides, eventually leading to the indictment of Roh's elder brother Roh Gun-Pyeong on suspicion of influence peddling.[67][68] It soon became clear that investigation would have to expand to encompass Roh Moo-Hyun's aides,[69] as well as other members of his family.[70] As the investigation closed in on Roh's former secretary, Chung Sang-Moon, Roh made the surprise announcement on his website that "The accusation should be directed at our household,[71] not Chung. Our household made the request, received money and used it."[72] At the same time, Roh claimed that he himself had not known of the money transfer before his retirement. By May 2009, prosecutors had summoned Roh's wife,[73] son,[74] and eventually the former President himself[75] on suspicion of receiving a total of 6 million dollars in bribes from Park Yeon-Cha, a businessman close to the ex-President. Roh was subject to initial written questioning by prosecutors,[76] before direct questioning, prior to which he apologized again to the public and stated that "he was overwhelmed by shame."[77]

Roh's investigation for corruption proved especially disappointing to his supporters[citation needed] because he had campaigned on pledges to "clean up the presidency,"[78] and root out corruption, while condemning his opponents as hopelessly corrupt.[79]

In one speech to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Korea's "June Struggle" for democracy, Roh vehemently attacked critics who described him as incompetent, stating, "They even deal out the absurd rhetoric that they would rather have a corrupt administration than an inept one while openly revealing their true colors as forces of corruption and the security-driven dictatorships of the past. What’s more, they label the democratic forces as being inept, plotting to rise to power on the back of the nostalgia for the development-oriented dictatorships of the past."[80]

Roh's characteristically self-righteous stance resulted in harsh condemnation of the ex-President for hypocrisy when the scandal broke,[81] a criticism he himself acknowledged in a message on his website when he stated, "I have lost my moral cause just with the facts I have so far admitted. The only thing left is the legal procedure"[82] Roh further added, "What I have to do now is bow to the nation and apologize. From now on, the name Roh cannot be a symbol of the values you pursue. I'm no longer qualified to speak about democracy and justice.... You should abandon me."[83] Despite these appeals, Roh continued to deny all knowledge of the receipt of money by his family from Park Yeon-Cha, in contradiction to Park's testimony.[84] Roh refused cross-examination with Park.[85]

In contrast to scandals involving previous Presidents, who reportedly used illicit funds to finance political campaigns,[86] Roh's family have used borrowed funds for personal use, such as the payment of living expenses for study in the United States.[87]

Suicide[edit]

Roh Moo-Hyun died on the morning of 23 May 2009 after apparently jumping from a 45-meter (150 ft) cliff known as Bueong'i Bawi (lit. Owl's Rock) behind his rural home in his home village of Bongha. He sustained serious head injuries and was sent by car (not by ambulance) to Seyoung hospital nearby at 7:20 am and moved to Busan University Hospital at around 8:15 am (and pronounced dead at around 9:30 am (00:30 GMT).[13] According to police, Roh left a suicide note on his computer apologizing for making "too many people suffer" and requested that his body be cremated.[13]

I am in debt to so many people. I have caused too great a burden to be placed upon them. I can't begin to fathom the countless agonies down the road. The rest of my life would only be a burden for others. I am unable to do anything because of poor health. Do not be too sad. Isn't life and death all a part of nature? Do not be sorry. Do not feel resentment toward anyone. It is fate. Cremate me. And leave only a small tombstone near home. I've thought on this for a long time. [88]

10th president Lee Myung-bak stated that "the news was truly unbelievable and deeply sad." Justice Minister Kim Kyung-han said the corruption case against him would be formally closed. However, he did not say whether the former president's family would continue to be investigated.[88]

Roh's suicide followed the suicide of a number of high profile figures under corruption investigations in Korea in recent years, including the former secretary of Prime Minister Kim Young-chul,[89] former Busan mayor Ahn Sang-Young (who committed suicide while in prison),[90] Park Tae-young, former governor of Jeolla province,[91] and Chung Mong-hun, a former Hyundai executive. Roh himself had been sued by the widow of former Daewoo E&C head Nam Sang-Guk for allegedly making defamatory comments that drove her husband to throw himself off of a bridge.[92][93][94] Roh's suicide was followed later in the year by the suicide of another politician, the Mayor of Yangsan, who was being subject to a corruption investigation.[95][96]

Sidewalk memorial for Roh set up across the street from Seoul City Hall on 10 July 2009.

By 27 May, Roh's bodyguard revealed that he was not with the former president when he committed suicide.[97] Roh's public funerary ceremony involved both Buddhist and Catholic rites.[98] Hundreds of thousands of supporters turned out to pay their respects in memorial shrines erected around the country, as did President Lee Myung-bak and numerous other prominent politicians.[99][100] Sporadic violent demonstrations in Seoul immediately after the funeral resulted in the detention of 72 people.[101]

Roh's suicide resulted in a sudden positive shift in domestic perception towards the late President, leading one critical professor to comment, "How could he become an instant saint upon his suicide?"[102] Perceptions of an excessive investigation on Roh's alleged improprieties boosted support for the opposition Party (itself formed when Roh's then unpopularity made it a liability to be associated with him), giving them enough leverage to demand that President Lee Myung-bak apologize for the "politically motivated" investigation they claimed caused Roh's death, and discipline those responsible.[103] Support for the opposition party increased to 28.3%, outpolling the ruling GNP at 23.5%.[104] The Democratic Party also decided to block the scheduled opening of the National Assembly until the Lee Myung-bak government accepted responsibility for Roh's suicide.[105] The chief prosecutor in Roh's bribery case also resigned.[106] A year after Roh died, his autobiography was published by his personal and political fellows. Based on Roh's previous books, unpublished draft, notes, letters and interviews, it follows Roh's life from birth to death.[107] He died about 3 months before 8th President Kim Dae-jung died on 18 August 2009 of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome.

Legacy[edit]

In January 2010, dissatisfaction with the poor electoral showing of the minority Democratic Party, and a posthumous reappraisal of Roh Moo-hyun's presidency spurred the creation of a new party, the "People's Participation Party." This party was created to "revive the spirit of former President Roh Moo-hyun."[108][109][110][111]

The Institute for Future Korea (한국미래발전연구원) is established for researching and promoting Roh Moo-hyun's social ideas.[112]

A Wikileaks American diplomatic cable to South Korea revealed that Roh Moo-hyun expressed concerns how the US government mistreated North Korea.[113]

Lee In-gyu (이인규), the former head of the SPO released his book on the involvements of the political corruptions surrounding the investigation against Roh that led to his suicide.[114]

In 2010, 1 year after his death, the politicians who were Roh's aides won the local elections and became the provincial government heads. It was called "Roh faction strikes back!". And the general view on his presidency got more positive, while the president Lee Myung-Bak's popularity got dimmer. In January 2012, Han Myung-Sook who had been one of the prime ministers in Roh's tenure was elected party leader of the biggest opposition party, Democratic United Party. She officially made clear "succession of Roh's policy".[115] Although his policy was regarded as failure when he was in the position, it has been reevaluated as liberal and nationalistic, compared to Lee Myung-Bak's authoritarian and pro-US policy.[116] Even a conservative professor, Lee Sang-Don, who had severely criticized Roh's policy, said that "Roh became a myth (of our age) ." [117]

In his book after retirement, Former United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated he was surprised when Roh told him that he thought the greatest security threats in East Asia were the United States and Japan. He also stated that he thought Roh was a little bit crazy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  12. ^ "Fiasco of 386 Generation". The Korea Times. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c Kim, Kwang-Tae (23 May 2009). "SKorean ex-president Roh dies in apparent suicide". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 29 May 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Kim Dae-jung
President of South Korea
25 February 2003 – 11 March 2004
Succeeded by
Goh Kun
(Acting)
Preceded by
Goh Kun
(Acting)
President of South Korea
15 May 2004 – 24 February 2008
Succeeded by
Lee Myung-bak