Former South Korean Dictator’s Grandson Goes On His Knees And Apologizes To Victims Of The 1980 Gwangju Uprising

This is the first time anyone from his family has issued an apology about the massacre.

Chun Woo Won, the grandson of South Korea’s notorious military dictator Chun Doo Hwan, recently caused a stir among the Korean public by exposing the alleged crimes of his family members on his social media.

Chun Woo Won | SCMP

Chun made multiple posts on his Instagram account, from evidence to prove that he is indeed the late dictator’s grandson to photos and videos with damning claims against his own blood relatives, including his grandmother, the widow of Chun Doo Hwan. But the issue gained international attention after he did a livestream on YouTube from his home in New York, pledged to donate half of his inheritance, and unveil all the crimes and corruption committed by his family while doing drugs on camera.

Former South Korean Dictator’s Grandson Reveals Alleged Family Crimes, Netizens Worry About His Safety

The broadcast ended when the NYPD entered his apartment and escorted Chun out on a stretcher. The entire situation was worrisome to the general public in South Korea, who as much admired him for his whistleblowing as felt concerned for his safety. After a few days of his hospitalization, it was revealed that he had stopped breathing on his own and had to be hooked up with machines to keep his body alive.

After his discharge, Chun returned to Instagram on March 24 to apologize for his whistleblowing and said he would stop the expose on his family. Though he still maintained that they have acquired wealth through unlawful means, Chun felt that he was not in a position to impose any change.

No matter how much I struggle and try to expose them, the people I expose are the people who are part of the top 1% of the world. What would change even if I reported it? Nothing will change. So I will not expose them anymore. I am a sinner who has no rights to.

—Chun Woo Won

Chun arrived in Seoul on March 28 from New York and was arrested once he set foot at the Incheon airport on charges of illegal drug use. After 38 hours of investigation, he was released. He immediately headed to Gwangju, the city that probably has the most scores to settle with the late Chun Doo Hwan.

Chun Woo Won met with the bereaved families and the surviving victims of his grandfather’s deadly military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Gwangju at the May 18 Memorial Culture Center. He went down on his knees and apologized to them, calling his grandfather a “criminal” who “stamped on heroes who fought against the military dictatorship with military boots instead of promoting the development of democracy.

Chun Doo Hwan being escorted to a courtroom in Seoul in 1996 where he was sentenced on sedition and mutiny charges | New York Times

He confessed that as a child, he was taught the democracy movement to be riots, and his grandfather and his accomplices were the heroes. The younger Chun expressed his own guilt for being connected to such a family and benefitting from the oppression of others and said he would “repent and express regrets (for his) family’s wrongdoings for the rest of (his) life.

Chun Woo Won apologizing with a deep bow | The Korea Times


In over 40 years of that bloody historical moment, Chun Woo Won is the first in his family to apologize for all the wrongdoings against the citizens of Gwangju, unlike his grandfather, who was remorseless till 2021, when he died at age 90. Some of the bereaved family members accepted Woo Won’s apology with teary eyes. While some appreciated his courage, others felt that the public should be cautious not to put him on a pedestal.

Chun Doo Hwan died without a single word of apology, but his sins will never disappear or be covered up.

—Cho Jin Tae, executive director of a Gwangju victims’ group

After apologizing to the victims and their families, Chun visited the May 18 National Cemetery to pay his respects to those who lost their lives to the military suppression. He left a touching note in the visitor’s log there, saying “All those resting in peace here are the true fathers of democracy.

Source: Korea JoongAng Daily