• Roh Tae-Woo, S. Korea's First Democratically-Elected President, Dies At 88
This file photo from October 1990 shows Roh sitting at his desk at the presidential office. (Photo: Yonhap)


Roh Tae-woo, South Korea's 13th president, has died at the age of 88.

He had recently been hospitalized after his health deteriorated.

He is survived by his wife, former first lady Kim Ok-suk, a daughter and son.

Ron Chang looks back on his legacy as the country's first democratically elected leader.


Roh, a former general, was handpicked 33 years ago to succeed President Chun Doo-hwan.

He had helped Chun seize control of the country through a military coup in 1979 in the wake of a power vacuum created by the death of former authoritarian Park Chung-hee.

Amid pro-democracy rallies in 1987, Roh was forced to accept calls for a direct presidential system, and he was elected later that year.

Roh is credited for South Korea's successful hosting of the 1988 Seoul Olympics and promoting inter-Korean exchanges.

But after his term ended in 1996, he was convicted alongside Chun of corruption and mutiny for their role in the coup and the brutal crackdown on the 1980 pro-democracy uprising in the southwestern city of Gwangju.

Roh was sentenced to 17 years in prison but was pardoned in 1997 by then-President Kim Young-sam.

Since then, he had lived out of the spotlight.

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