South Korean history of bad presidential endings grows

Seoul, South Korea – In the same courtroom where a former military dictator was once sentenced to death, Park Geun-hye's conviction of corruption extended the tradition of South Korean presidencies on Friday ending badly. Almost all former presidents, or their relatives and aides, have been mired in scandals near the end of their terms or after they left office. One leader, Park's father, was killed by his spymaster, and another former president committed suicide.

Here is a look at the corrupt presidential legacies of South Korea:


SYNGMAN RHEE (1948-1960)

The Christian leader and independence scholar educated in the United States became the first president of South Korea in 1948 with the help of the United States, three years after the Korean Peninsula was liberated from Japanese colonial rule at the end of World War II. The government of Rhee became increasingly authoritarian, especially after the Korean War of 1950-53. Critics accused Rhee of corruption and nepotism while trying to prolong his power. He won his fourth presidential term in 1960 amid widespread suspicions of electoral fraud. This sparked protests across the country that forced him to flee to Hawaii, where he died in 1965.


PARK CHUNG-HEE (1961-1979)

Park, then army general, came to power in a coup in 1961, which overthrew another elected government after Rhee resigned. Park is credited with the industrial policies that drove the country's rapid economic growth during the 1960s and 1970s. Critics remember Park as a ruthless dictator who imprisoned, tortured and executed dissidents. He was killed by his espionage chief during a nightly drinks session in 1979.


CHUN DOO-HWAN (1980-1988)

Chun, an army general, and his military cronies were leading tanks and troops in the capital of Seoul to seize power in a coup in December 1979 that ended the interim government of incumbent President Choi Kyu-hah following Park's death. In the summer of 1987, mbadive demonstrations in favor of democracy forced the Chun government to accept a constitutional review for direct presidential elections. After his term ended, Chun spent two years in exile in a remote Buddhist temple amid public calls for his punishment for corruption and human rights abuses.


ROH TAE-WOO (1988-1993)

Roh, Chun's army buddy won the 1987 election, thanks in large part to the votes divided among the liberal opposition candidates. Both Chun and Roh were arrested in late 1995 on charges of accepting bribes from employers while they were in office. They were also accused of rioting and treason charges stemming from the 1979 coup and a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests that killed hundreds in the southern city of Gwangju in 1980. Chun was initially sentenced to death and Roh was sentenced to death. 22 and a half years in prison in August 1996. The Supreme Court of South Korea in April 1997 handed down a life sentence for Chun and a 12-year prison sentence for Roh. Both were released by a presidential pardon in December 1997.


KIM YOUNG-SAM (1993-1998)

Kim, whose election formally ended with the military government, initially enjoyed strong support for his ambitious anti-corruption efforts. That was before his popularity plummeted in the midst of the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, which toppled some of South Korea's largest companies and forced his government to accept a $ 58 billion bailout. of dollars of the International Monetary Fund. Critics accused him of mismanaging the economy. He left office in the middle of a corruption scandal that saw his son arrested and imprisoned.


KIM DAE-JUNG (1998-2003)

Kim, opposition leader and democracy activist, rose to the presidency and held an unprecedented summit with the then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 2000. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize that year. He left the office stained by the corruption scandals involving his aides and his three children. Kim was also accused of having the Hyundai trade group allegedly paying more than $ 400 million to North Korea before the inter-Korean summit.


ROH MOO-HYUN (2003-2008)

Roh jumped to his death in 2009, a year after his term ended, amid accusations that members of his family accepted bribes from an entrepreneur during his presidency. His older brother was sentenced in 2009 to two and a half years in prison for influence peddling, although he was later pardoned. Lawmakers in 2004 voted to challenge Roh over allegations of incompetence and violations of electoral laws, but the Constitutional Court reinstated him two months later, alleging that the accusations were not serious enough to justify his dismissal.


LEE MYUNG-BAK (2008-2013)

Lee's conservative victory, which ended a decade of liberal rule, reflected the hopes of the voters that the former Hyundai CEO would revive a Bad economy. Its popularity was diminished by unfulfilled promises and economic policies that critics considered as attacks on freedom of expression. He left the office with humble popularity amid a series of corruption scandals around members of his family and key figures in the government. Prosecutors arrested the 76-year-old this month for several allegations of corruption, including suspicions that he received a total of 11 billion won ($ 10 million) in bribes from his own intelligence agency, companies and others. Prosecutors also allege that Lee used a private company as a channel to establish illicit bribery funds totaling 35 billion won ($ 33 ​​million), misappropriated official funds and evaded taxes.


PARK GEUN-HYE (2013-2017) [19659006] Park was formally dismissed from office and arrested in March 2017 on charges that he colluded with a confidant to receive tens of millions of dollars from companies in bribes and extortion, and also allowed the friend to manipulate issues of the shadows. He apologized for trusting his friend, Choi Soon-sil, but denied any crime. He called his trial political revenge and refused to attend the sessions.


Follow Kim Tong-hyung on Twitter at @KimTongHyung.

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