Chun Doo-hwan

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Chun Doo-hwan

Chun Doo-hwan (Korean: 전두환; 6 March 1931 - 23 November 2021) is a former South Korean politician and army general who served as President of South Korea from 1980 to 1988. From December 1979 to September 1980, he was the country's de facto leader, ruling as an unelected military strongman.



"President Chun Doo Hwan said today the Soviet downing..." in United Press International (22 September 1983)

  • The KAL plane incident made us clearly realize once again the cold-hearted logic of the international society that force wielded by those who believe in force must be met with force.
  • The Soviet Union which forcibly occupied the northern half of our land and instigated its communist puppets (in North Korea) to touch off the fratricidal Korean War (of 1950-53) did not stop there but continues to direct its expansionist strategy toward us.
  • The North Korean communists have failed to even mention the KAL plane incident while many communist nations have criticized Russia's act of barbarism. This is because the North Korean communists are a group who do not hesitate to commit actions even more barbarous than the Russians.


"Excerpts from the International Olympic Committee President interview with Chun Doo-hwan on North Korean threats to the 1988 Seoul Olympics" in Wilson Center Digital Archive (19 April 1986)

  • It is true that [North] Korea has more arms than we have but they do not have the means to fight against us and the US forces based in my country. President Kim Il-sung knows that he can not attack us and I know it and he knows that I know it.
  • Neither the USSR nor China will allow North Korea to attack South Korea. North Korea is not in a position to attack us. If we were to give them three sports now, afterwards they would ask for five sports.
  • The problem of the danger of war depends on whether the USSR is inclined to fight against the United States in my region. I can assure you that that country does not want war either.
  • Let it be well understood. North Korea was opposed in principle to our Olympic Games; afterwards, they wanted divided Games, then they changed their demands at least two or three times before asking, as you said, for five sports. My question is this : through whom did they ask for it?
  • President Kim Il-sung and his son said that Seoul could not organise the Olympic Games as there is nothing in Seoul but beggars in the streets. It was only propaganda and I know it, but when they realised that these Games could be a success, they became very nervous. They can only get out of this problem with threats. They can do nothing to stop Seoul. Time is passing and, I repeat, you and your organisation are greatly respected and you may be assured that North Korea can not win the battle against the IOC.


"Excerpts from Speech by South Korea President" in The New York Times (1 July 1987)

  • Because social stability and national harmony were being undermined by the recent continuing demonstrations and strife over the constitutional issue, I believe that you, my fellow countrymen, not only experienced serious inconvenience and anxiety but were also worried that catastrophe might befall the nation if that state of affairs continued.
  • Fellow citizens, as I have repeatedly emphasized, the key to democratic development in our country lies in establishing a tradition of the president peacefully handing over the reins of government to a successor at the end of his term of office and then retiring with the blessing of the public.
  • I have always maintained an unwavering resolve to set such an example to insure that a tradition of peaceful changes of administrations, which is the long cherished goal of the 40-year political history of the republic, will evolve and take hold in this land. In fact, I have always run the affairs of state with that goal in mind.
  • However, I clearly recognize the fact that regardless of the possible merits and demerits of a particular system, and irrespective of the preferences of any specific political parties, the general public has an ardent desire to choose the president directly.
  • No matter how good a system may be, it is of no use if the people do not want it. I believe that the intrinsic function of politics is to carry out the public will, if only on a probational basis, and to make sure it works well.
  • Fellow citizens, we must all realize that both the fruit of the growth that we have achieved thus far and the opportunity at hand to make a big leap forward are too precious to spoil. Not only I, but all citizens, deeply desire to successfully carry out sustained economic development, a peaceful change of administrations, and the '88 Olympics that will be a catalyst for national prosperity.
  • At the same time, however, many of my fellow citizens who remember our political past must be worried whether or not a direct presidential election system will function without a major hitch. And yet, I am confident that if you, my fellow citizens, watchfully prod the politicians in the right direction with such an anxious concern, things will really work out all right.
  • The legacy of mistrust, antagonism, arbitrary rule and extreme confrontation that persisted over the past four decades must now be committed to the dustbin of history. Let us now take the lead in spurring social development by virtue of mutual concession, compromise, trust and harmony.
  • To develop such advanced politics, I solicit my fellow countrymen not only to serve as wise judges in your capacity as mature democratic citizens but also to alertly guard against and sternly condemn undemocratic acts that undermine stability and harmony, as well as dialogue and fair play. Let us work another miracle by developing Korea into a model of political development deserving to be so recorded in world history; we must not be content with having merely become a model of economic development.

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