South Korea: Exercise in Exorcism

Exercise in Exorcism

"I'm ashamed that I have to revive dark memories and reopen old wounds," said South Korea's former ruler Chun Doo Hwan, finally breaking the silence that followed his retirement in early 1988. Appearing before a special panel of the National Assembly, Chun, 58, accepted "moral responsibility" for the excesses of his seven-year rule. But members of the opposition exploded in protest when Chun denied responsibility for the 1980 deaths of 200 demonstrators in Kwangju and argued that the army had rightfully fired on a crowd. One legislator dashed to the witness stand, grabbed Chun by the arm and shouted, "Murderer!"

Chun's...