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Chun Doo-hwan and Lee Soon-ja couple

Posted April. 03, 2017 07:17,   

Updated April. 03, 2017 07:23


An old couple recently published their own memoirs to recollect their past. On the cover of a biography written by the 78-year-old wife, a black and white photo shows herself crossing a stepping stone while holding her husband's hand in front of her. The foreword goes "this biography is dedicated to my lover, my husband, the father of our children, and the grandfather of our grandchildren." In addition, her 86-year-old husband's biography will also be published today. As husband and wife, they will have conversed to look back on the times they shared and put together the pieces of puzzles from the past. Indeed, their story would be a beautiful one, but clearly not, as the authors are the former military tyrant Chun Doo-hwan and his wife Lee Soon-ja.

On the May 18 Democratic Uprising, Lee wrote on her book that it was a "shocking armed incident occurred within just 10 days." Moreover, on the dismissed argument made by prosecutors during the trial upon the Special Act on May 18 that Chun ordered to shoot Gwangju civilians, Lee insisted that "the dismissal finally removed my husband from false accusations such as 'shoot-to-kill orders,' 'massacre,' and 'random firing.'" While Lee wrote the court decision as "a fortunate thing indeed," the victims' families and Gwangju citizens who called for a strict investigation were infuriated.

Chun also seemed determined to refute the Dec. 12 military action stipulated as coup, claiming that it was "distorting the history through political influence." His argument may have been made to seek the truth of the historical incident falsely known to the world, but nothing is for sure whether his arguments are in line with the truth. Furthermore, readers should closely check whether Chun deliberately idealized, embellished, or made excuses in his delusions for "unfair" treatments after stepping down from the presidential position.

Lee did not forget to cover the daily lives of the two, expressing her love and respect for her beloved and the family. One of the noticeable reads are a collection of undisclosed photos during their solitary confinement at Baekdamsa Temple for two years since the late 1988. To them, those two years must have been the period when they bitterly felt the transience of power. While the German political philosopher Hannah Arendt claimed the "Banality of evil," the couple are no ordinary citizens, surely not free from the erongdoings perpetrated by the Fifth Republic of Korea. If their memoirs were intended to make noises rather than make peace with history, they will at least accomplish their original purpose.