Ex-South Korean President Roh Tae-woo dies at 88

South Korea Obit Roh

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo, a major player in a 1979 coup who later became president in a landmark democratic election before ending his tumultuous political career in prison, died in hospital on Tuesday in the capital of Seoul. He was 88.

Roh, who ruled South Korea as president from 1988-1993, died of complications from various illnesses after his condition worsened while dealing with a degenerative disorder, Kim Yon-su, head of Seoul National University Hospital, told a news conference.

Roh was a key participant in the December 1979 military coup that made his army friend and coup leader Chun Doo-hwan president after their mentor, dictator Park Chung-hee, was assassinated following 18 years of rule.

Roh led his army division into Seoul and joined other military leaders for operations to seize the capital. In the following year, the military under Chun and other coup leaders launched a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in the southern city of Gwangju, killing about 200 people, in one of the darkest moments in South Korea's turbulent modern history.