Roh Moo-hyun

Roh Moo-hyun
Roh Moo-hyun (cropped).jpg
Roh Moo-hyun in 2004
16th President of South Korea
In office
25 February 2003 – 25 February 2008[1]
Prime MinisterGoh Kun
Lee Hae-chan
Han Myung-sook
Han Duck-soo
Preceded byKim Dae-jung
Succeeded byLee Myung-bak
Minister of Oceans and Fisheries
In office
7 August 2000 – 25 March 2001
Preceded byLee Hang-kyu
Succeeded byChung Woo-taik
Member of the National Assembly
In office
22 July 1998 – 29 May 2000
Preceded byLee Myung-bak
Succeeded byChung In-bong
ConstituencyJongno (Seoul)
In office
30 May 1988 – 29 May 1992
Preceded byPark Chan-jong, Kim Jung-kil
Succeeded byHur Sam-soo
ConstituencyDong (Busan)
Personal details
Born(1946-09-01)1 September 1946
Gimhae, Southern Korea
Died23 May 2009(2009-05-23) (aged 62)
Yangsan, South Korea
Cause of deathSuicide by jumping
Resting placeBongha Village
Gimhae, South Korea
NationalitySouth Korean
Political partyDemocratic (until 2003)
Uri (2003–2007)
Independent (2007–2009)
Kwon Yang-sook (m. 1972)
Military service
Allegiance South Korea
Service/branch Republic of Korea Army
Years of service1968–1971
RankROK Army Sangbyeong.png Sangbyeong (Corporal)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationNo Mu-hyeon
McCune–ReischauerNo Muhyŏn

Roh Moo-hyun (Hangul노무현; Hanja盧武鉉; RRNo Muhyeon; Korean pronunciation: [ɦjʌn]) GOM (1 September 1946 – 23 May 2009) was a South Korean politician who served as President of South Korea (2003–2008). Roh's pre-presidential political career was focused on human rights advocacy for student activists in South Korea. His electoral career later expanded to a focus on overcoming regionalism in South Korean politics, culminating in his election to the presidency. He achieved a large following among younger internet users, particularly at the website OhMyNews, which aided his success in the presidential election.[2][3]

Roh's election was notable for the arrival in power of a new generation of Korean politicians, the so-called 386 Generation (people in their thirties, when the term was coined, who had attended university in the 1980s and who were born in the 1960s).[4][5] This generation had been veterans of student protests against authoritarian rule, and advocated a conciliatory approach towards North Korea, even at the expense of good relations with the United States.[6] Roh himself was the first South Korean president to be born after the end of Japanese rule in Korea.

South Korea received the highest marks on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index under his administration. The value of the South Korean won against the US Dollar was the strongest during his administration since 1997.[7] Due to the strong currency, for the first time in history, South Korea became the world's 10th largest economy and exceeded the $20,000 milestone in nominal GDP per capita during his administration.

However, due to his poor performance in economy and diplomacy, Roh was not a popular president, having the worst approval rating on average ever recorded in South Korean political history.[8][9][10] His economic policy was often criticized for persisting with certain obsolete economic views and failing certain livelihood issues.[9][11] There had been a considerable diplomatic dissonance between South Korea and its traditional allies during Roh's presidency as well. Former Bush administration officials such as Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, in their published memoirs, claimed that Roh was anti-American and disclosed that there had been numerous conflicts between the U.S. and South Korea because of Roh's unpredictability.[12][13] There has been criticism that Roh's anti-Americanism, nationalism, and pro-North Korean views contributed to a contradiction in diplomacy and impaired credibility in the international community.[11] It also led to a decline in some of his popular support, especially among the older generation.[14]

Despite high expectations in the beginning,[15] his presidency encountered strong opposition from the conservative Grand National Party and media. They constantly accused him of incompetence, and insulting criticism was frequently published in the media.[16] As a result, many of Roh's policies, including a plan to move the capital, and a plan to form a coalition with the opposition, were also attacked and made little progress.

After leaving office, Roh returned to his hometown of Bongha Maeul. He ran a duck farm and lived an ordinary life, sharing it through his blog. He also ran a website called "Democracy 2.0" to promote healthy online discussions.[17] The constantly growing numbers of visits by his political supporters[18] were seen as a threat to the Grand National Party. Fourteen months later, Roh was suspected of bribery by prosecutors, and the subsequent investigations attracted public attention. Roh committed suicide on 23 May 2009 by jumping from a mountain cliff behind his home, after saying that "there are too many people suffering because of me" on a suicide note on his PC.[19] About 4 million people visited Roh's hometown Bongha Village in the week following his death. His suicide was confirmed by police.[20]

Roh's former chief of staff and political ally, Moon Jae-in was elected president in 2017.

Personal background

Roh Moo-hyun and Kwon Yang-sook at the 2006 APEC gala dinner with President Vladimir Putin of Russia (centre) and George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush (right)

Roh was born into a poor farming family on 1 September 1946, in Bongha Village near Gimhae and Busan, in what is now southeastern South Korea. His parents had three boys and two girls, and Roh was the youngest of his family. In 1953, he entered Dae Chang Elementary School. He received high grades, but was quite often absent from school to assist his parents.[21] While in sixth grade, with the encouragement of his school teacher, he became the president of the school. As he entered Jin-yeong middle school, a writing contest was held to commemorate Syngman Rhee's birthday. Roh tried to start a student movement against it, but was caught and suspended from the school.[22]

Roh Moo-Hyun decided to become a lawyer due to the influence of his elder brother who had studied law but had died in a car accident. Roh studied on his own to pass the bar exam in 1975 (South Korea does not currently require bar examinees to have graduated from college, university, or law school). In 1977, he became a regional judge in Daejeon, but quit in 1978, and became a lawyer.

In 1981, he defended students who had been tortured for suspicion of possession of contraband literature. Following this he decided to become a human rights lawyer. In early 2003, he was quoted as saying, "After that defense, my life was totally changed. At first, even I couldn't believe that they had been tortured that harshly. However, when I saw their horrified eyes and their missing toenails, my comfortable life as a lawyer came to an end. I became a man that wanted to make a difference in the world." With fellow human rights lawyers, he pointed out that this case was forged, then claimed that the National Security Act (South Korea) itself should be judged.

In 1985 he started to participate in civic movements by assuming permanent power of attorney on behalf of the Busan council of citizen democracy.[22] He opposed the autocratic regime in place at the time in South Korea, and participated in the pro-democracy June Democracy Movement in 1987 against Chun Doo-hwan.[23] The same year he was jailed while investigating the cause of death of the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering factory worker Lee Seok-Kyu, who had been killed by a stray police tear gas bullet while on strike. Roh was accused of 'unapproved interference in the case' and 'hindering the funeral'. Although he was released in twenty days because of public opinion against the arrest, his lawyer's license was revoked after the incident in political retribution.[22] His lawyer's license was reinstated[when?] and he, along with Chun Jung Bae and Im Jong In, founded Haemaru Law firm.[24]

Roh was a Catholic (baptismal name: Justin) in the 1980s but then lapsed while continued to identify as a Catholic, though later years he was non-religious while practiced in some form of Mahayana Buddhism[25][26].

Other Languages
العربية: روه مو هيون
asturianu: Roh Moo-hyun
azərbaycanca: No Mu Hyon
Bân-lâm-gú: No Mu-hyeon
беларуская: Но Му Хён
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Но Му Хён
Bikol Central: Roh Moo-hyun
български: Но Му Хьон
brezhoneg: Roh Moo-hyun
català: Roh Moo-hyun
čeština: Ro Mu-hjon
Cymraeg: Roh Moo-hyun
Deutsch: Roh Moo-hyun
Ελληνικά: Ρο Μού-χιον
español: Roh Moo-hyun
euskara: Roh Moo-hyun
فارسی: رو مو هیون
français: Roh Moo-hyun
galego: Roh Moo-hyun
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Roh Moo-hyun
한국어: 노무현
hrvatski: Roh Moo-hyun
Bahasa Indonesia: Roh Moo-hyun
italiano: Roh Moo-hyun
עברית: רו מו-היון
Basa Jawa: Roh Moo-hyun
ქართული: ნო მუ ჰიენი
қазақша: Но Му Хён
Latina: No Mu-hyeon
latviešu: No Muhjons
Lëtzebuergesch: Roh Moo-hyun
lietuvių: Roh Moo-hyun
magyar: No Muhjon
Malagasy: Roh Moo-hyun
Bahasa Melayu: Roh Moo-hyun
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Roh Moo-hyun
монгол: Ну Мүхёнь
Nederlands: Roh Moo-hyun
日本語: 盧武鉉
norsk nynorsk: Roh Moo-hyun
occitan: Roh Moo-hyun
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Roh Moo-hyun
Plattdüütsch: Roh Moo-hyun
polski: Roh Moo-hyun
português: Roh Moo-hyun
română: Roh Moo-Hyun
Runa Simi: Roh Moo-hyun
русский: Но Му Хён
sicilianu: Roh Moo-Hyun
Simple English: Roh Moo-hyun
svenska: Roh Moo-hyun
Tagalog: Roh Moo-hyun
Türkçe: Roh Moo-hyun
українська: Но Му Хьон
Tiếng Việt: Roh Moo-hyun
吴语: 卢武铉
Yorùbá: Roh Mu-hyon
粵語: 盧武鉉
中文: 盧武鉉