25 Facts About Roh Tae-woo


Roh Tae-woo was the first democratically elected president of South Korea.


Roh Tae-woo was a leader of the Democratic Justice Party from 1987 to 1990 and was known for having passed the June 29 Declaration in 1987 as the leader of the party.


Roh Tae-woo is the 16th generation descendant of Noh Sa-sin who was a civil minister and scholar during early Joseon period.


Roh Tae-woo befriended Chun Doo-hwan while in high school in Taikyu.


Roh Tae-woo was promoted to Sergeant Cannoneer of an M114 155 mm howitzer gun line.


Roh Tae-woo later entered the Korean Military Academy, completing it in the first class of the four-year program, he graduated in February 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as an Army 2nd Lieutenant in the 11th class of the Korea Military Academy.


Roh Tae-woo was a military general when he helped Chun lead troops to the Gwangju Democratization Movement in 1980.


Roh Tae-woo held several key army posts such as Commander of the Capital Security Command in 1979 and Commander of the Defense Security Command in 1980.


The reason was that Roh Tae-woo worked to carry out his own agenda for democratic reform.


Roh Tae-woo's rule was notable for hosting the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and for his foreign policy of Nordpolitik, which represented a major break from previous administrations.


However, in 1992, Roh Tae-woo's government sealed up a cave on Mount Halla where the remains of the Jeju uprising massacre victims had been discovered, continuing a series of coverups by successive administrations on the truth of the uprising.


Roh Tae-woo met with President Corazon Aquino for a series of talks between the Philippines and South Korea for economic, social, and cultural ties, supporting the Filipino boxer Leopoldo Serantes in the Olympics, and to discuss unification talks to end North Korea's hostilities after the Korean War.


Roh Tae-woo conducted a five-nation European visit in December 1989.


Roh Tae-woo's moves left North Korea more isolated and was a dramatic and historic turning point of South Korea's diplomatic goals.


On 4 June 1990, Roh Tae-woo met with Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the Soviet Union, during a visit to the United States.


Roh Tae-woo was arrested in November 1995 on charges of bribery.


In March 2006, Roh Tae-woo was stripped of 11 national honours which he previously received.


Roh Tae-woo finished repaying fines from his illegally gained wealth in 2013.


Roh Tae-woo mostly stayed out of politics and maintained a low profile in retirement, and he continued to express remorse over his crimes until his death in 2021.


Roh Tae-woo's son visited the cemetery a second time in 2020, and he offered a flower wreath under his father's name.


Roh Tae-woo suffered from prostate cancer and received surgery in 2002.


Roh Tae-woo's son, Roh Jae-heon who is a lawyer based in the United States, said that Roh spent most of his final 10 years of his life in the hospital, while his daughter Roh Soh-yeong, an art museum director, said he was bedridden for the past 10 years and unable to speak or move his body.


Roh Tae-woo died in intensive care at the Seoul National University Hospital at 1:45pm KST on 26 October 2021, at the age of 88.


Roh Tae-woo's family released his last will and message, asking for forgiveness for his role in the 1979 military coup and 1980 Gwangju Uprising crackdown, and expressed his wish for future generations to be able to achieve reunification with North Korea which he could not achieve in his term.


Roh Tae-woo died about one month before former President Chun Doo-hwan died on 23 November 2021 from complications of blood cancer.