SOUTH KOREA: Rise of a Strongman

A rubber-stamp vote turns a tough general into a President

The South Korean presidential race was not exactly a cliffhanger. Indeed, Chun Doo Hwan, 49, the military strongman, ordered construction to begin on his inaugural stand before the election was even announced. Then last week the National Conference for Unification, the rubber-stamp electoral college, convened in Seoul's Changchung arena to make it official. With only one invalid ballot marring the unanimity of 2,525 delegates, Chun was voted the country's fifth President since it gained statehood in 1948.

An obscure major general before the assassination of President Park Chung Hee last October, Chun...

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