Son Apologizes Grandfather’s Cruelty After 43 Years

The grandson of former South Korean military dictator Chun Doo-hwan apologised on Friday for a massacre committed in the 1980s, a move hailed by victims and analysts as symbolic and significant.

Chun Woo-won, 27, became the first member of his family to visit the Gwangju cemetery and say sorry for the 1980 crackdown on a democracy uprising, which killed at least about 200 people, according to official estimates.

New York-based Chun has attracted widespread media coverage in South Korea for accusing his relatives of corruption in his Youtube and Instagram livestreams.

During one social media broadcast, he claimed to have taken illegal narcotics and was arrested when he landed in Seoul Tuesday, but released the next day.

I give my sincere apologies. I am sorry,” he said in South Korea’s Gwangju, looking visibly emotional.

“As a family member, I acknowledge that my grandfather Chun Doo-hwan was a sinner and slaughterer who committed such a great crime,” he said at a separate event.

“The citizens of Gwangju, who overcame fear in the midst of military dictatorship and stood against it with courage are heroes and truly the light and salt of our country.”

Shortly after Chun Doo-hwan seized power in a 1979 military coup, his troops used deadly force to quell protests in Gwangju.

While he was convicted of treason over the incident in 1996, his sentence was commuted by a presidential pardon, and he never admitted involvement in, or apologised for, the killings.

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