Related News

Home » World

Mourners line the streets as grief overcomes South Korea

PEOPLE in South Korea mourned their former President Roh Moo-hyun for a third day in one of the biggest outpourings of national grief in years.

About 190,000 mourners journeyed to the rural village of Bongha, where Roh resided, to pay respects to the former leader, who jumped off a cliff to his death last Saturday amid a probe by prosecutors into allegations that he and his family took US$6 million from a businessman.

Tens of thousands of mourners have also waited in long lines to lay white flowers and bow before Roh's portraits at mourning sites in Seoul. Emotions have run high with some accusing the country's conservative right, led by President Lee Myung-bak, of pushing the corruption probe believed to have driven Roh to take his life.

"This is political murder," said Kim Seung-ho, a 54-year-old Seoul resident at one such site outside the capital's 16th-century Deoksu Palace. "He was our best president in history. Look what the bloody government did to him."

Anti-government placards were hung at the site, with a group of Roh supporters collecting petitions calling for Lee's impeachment. None of the services in the capital, however, turned violent, police said. More than 70,000 police personnel were deployed on Seoul's streets to keep order.

Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and other top conservative political leaders were turned away in Bongha over the weekend, with Roh supporters hurling water and eggs at them. The village is 450 kilometers south of Seoul.

Han, Prosecutor-General Lim Chae-jin and other officials paid tribute at one of 31 government-run mourning sites that opened on Sunday.

Lim, citing his "personal agony," offered to resign after hearing news of Roh's death but Justice Minister Kim Kyung-han rejected the offer, the Justice Ministry said in a statement yesterday. Lim was appointed as the country's top prosecutor by Roh in 2007 and Lee kept him in the position.

Roh's suicide stunned the nation of 49 million, which was divided during his presidency between those critical of his engagement policy with North Korea and outspoken, anti-establishment ways, and others who rallied around his efforts to facilitate rapprochement with North Korea and fight corruption.

The 62-year-old Roh, a former human rights lawyer who defended student activists opposed to the country's military-backed governments in the 1980s, leaped from a rocky cliff after he and his family members faced intense questioning from prosecutors over bribery allegations.

He left behind a note describing his anguish over the corruption probe.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend