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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Korean Republic's Presidential X-Files, Part IV: Choi Kyu-hah - the former Korean Republic Diplomat to Malaysia who became as the President of ROK

President Choi Kyu-hah can speak Malay as well. As I expected, the former Korean Diplomat to Malaysia.
Choi Kyu-hah (Hangul/Hanja: 최규하/崔圭夏; Born: July 16th 1919 – Died: October 22nd 2006), was the fourth President of South Korea between 1979 and 1980. Choi was born in 134 Bongsan Avenue/Bongsanno, Bongsan-dong 836-1 beonji, Wonju, Gangwon Province in a time when Korea was a part of the Empire of Japan. He was a member of Gangneung Choi Clan (강릉 최씨/江陵崔氏), originated from Gangneung City in the same province.

Choi Kyu-hah was the Second Korean Republic Ambassador to Malaysia, served from 1964 to 1967, replacing the first ambassador, Choi Hong-hee. After his ambassadorial duties, Choi returned to Korea and served as foreign minister from 1967 to 1971; and as prime minister from 1975 to 1979.

After the assassination of Park Chung-hee in October 26th 1979, then Prime Minister Choi became acting president as the prime minister stood next in line for the presidency under Article 48 of the Yushin Constitution. Due to the unrest resulting from Park's authoritarian rule, Choi promised democratic elections, as under Park elections had been widely seen as rigged. Choi also promised a new constitution to replace the highly authoritarian Yushin Constitution. Choi won an election in December that year to become the country's fourth president.

In December 12th 1979, Major General Chun Doo-hwan and close allies within the military staged a coup d'état against Choi's government. They quickly removed the army chief of staff and virtually controlled the government by early 1980.

In April 1980, due to increasing pressure from Chun and other politicians, Choi appointed Chun head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. In May, Chun declared martial law and dropped all pretense of civilian government, becoming the de facto ruler of the country. By then, student protests were escalating in Seoul and Gwangju. The protests in Gwangju resulted in the 5.18 Gwangju Massacre in which about 987 civilians were killed within a five-day period by Chun's military.

Choi was forced to resign soon after the uprising, Prime Minister Park Chung-hoon became acting president, until Chun's election as president on September 1st 1980. After his resignation, Choi lived quietly out of the public eye and died on October 22nd 2006. Choi was buried in Daejeon National Cemetery, Daejeon Yuseong-gu on October 26th 2006.