Former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun
on May 23. The former president jumped from a cliff
in his hometown, where he had retired to. A country mourns
and articles 1
), and clashes
, WSJ), over the legacy of the former human rights attorney
who fought for the rights of student protesters and against the corrupt presidencies of the 80s, had his presidency saved by protests and activism in the electronic age, and at the end of his life found himself being investigated for bribery.
Roh practiced law
, during the corrupt governments of former presidents Chun Doo-hwan
(see also Gwangju Massacre
) and Roh Tae-woo
He set up his platform as being part of a new era of clean and open politics
(video of an ad Roh ran during his campaign, where he plays upon the theme of being for the people and against corruption of the old by singing the famed protest song "Sang Rok Su." The ad says that "the people are the president," and talks about how much Roh is indebted to the public who supported him in hardship, like when he didn't have money to run, and there were people who sent him their piggy banks. His campaign line is drawn as being a new president for a new Korea), and broke from his Millenium Democratic party to start the Yullin Uri Dang (“Our Open Party”), even though his political career was continuously plagued with accusations of incompetence and corruption of those around him
In 2004, Roh’s support for the Uri Party created an opportunity for the opposition party to vote to impeach him
on charges of electioneering and incompetence. However, the impeachment also created an opportunity for a new chapter in Korean civic behavior, showing the potential of the fully-wired constituency of Korea as many supporters gathered online to voice their dissension and spread the message while organizing protests
(video showing actor Moon Sung-geun giving a speech to protesters where he says the government "sees the people only as bugs" and asks for people to keep fighting against "the final gasp" of corruption, that the Korean people "have fought for with their lives" until now) and candlelight vigils
. Videos and images spread of those in the assembly who supported Roh attempting to physically block
the impeachment. spread online, and images of an assemblywoman dragged from her seat (4:58 in the video), as well as the triumphant looks of those of the Han Nara party, especially the grinning face of Park Geun-hye
(5:37 in the video, daughter of former president Park Chung-hee
, which made her involvement in the impeachment even more open to negative interpretation for those who found it undemocratic) further cast the opposition in a bad light when compared to images of Roh's despairing supporters who attempted stop proceedings even until the last minute by throwing objects (during the struggle, one politician even declares "I'm photographing all of this with my phone!"). In one of the more violent incidents, a man crashed his car into the National Assembly and set it on fire in protest. On May 14, 2004, the impeachment decision was overturned and Roh was reinstated as President.
He eventually retired to his hometown of Bongha Village, however, political scandal followed him even after he left office. An investigation revealed that records were missing, in particular, several terabytes worth of records disappeared before incoming president Lee Myung-bak took office. Roh eventually returned the missing records, and the scandal went away, but in early 2009, bribery
allegations were brought up.
On May 23, 2009
, Roh took a lone body guard with him on a hike to Owl’s Rock in his home village, where he fell. He sustained injuries that sent him to a hospital in Busan, where he died.
Many gathered around Bongha Village, which became a tourist spot after the president broke tradition to retire there, to pay their respects to the former president, even some major websites
have taken on
grayscale coloring to show their respects. And Kim Jong-il (the two previously met
) sent his condolences