Skip to content
Placeholder image for when a portrait image is not available

Roh, Tae-woo

President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) from 1988 to 1993.

Biography

Placeholder image for when a portrait image is not available
ROH TAE-WOO (1932- ). President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) from 1988 to 1993. Roh graduated from the ROK Military Academy in 1955. He later underwent advanced military training in the United States and in the ROK Military War College. As commander of the Capital Security Command in December 1979, he played a key role in the coup that brought his colleague Chun Doo-hwan to power. He became commander of the Defense Security Command in 1980 but left the army the following year to hold a series of ministerial posts during Chun's presidency. After various political maneuverings Roh succeeded Chun as president of the ROK. He presided over the 1988 Olympic Games, which most socialist countries attended despite opposition from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). This helped him develop his concept of Nordpolitik, announced soon after taking office, which was modeled on the earlier Ostpolitik of Willy Brandt of the Federal Republic of Germany. By 1992, the majority of socialist countries, including the Soviet Union and China, had established diplomatic relations with the ROK. Roh also wanted better relations with the DPRK. Negotiations began that eventually led to the 1991 Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression and Exchanges and Cooperation between the South and the North and other agreements, but these had not been implemented by the time Roh left office in 1993, and they have remained largely a dead letter. In his last two years in office, he had to cope with growing international concern over the DPRK's nuclear program.

Roh had concluded an alliance with the veteran opposition leader Kim Young-sam, who succeeded him as president in 1993. The latter was unable to prevent attacks on Roh and Chun for the 1979 coup and eventually agreed to their arrest and trial on charges that included bribery and corruption, to which mutiny and treason were later added. Roh received a heavy fine and 22 years' imprisonment but was released after a short time. The fine has remained unpaid.

All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. (Historical Dictionary of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, by James E. Hoare, published by RLPG Books, appears by permission of the author and publisher).


Popular Documents

September 1988

Record of Meetings in Prime Minister Takeshita’s Visit to China

Detailed summaries of Japanese Prime Minister Takeshita's conversations with Li Peng, Yang Shangkun, Deng Xiaoping, and Zhao Ziyang. Topics of discussion include Sino-Japanese political, economic, and cultural relations; China's economy and politics in the 1980s; the "history" problem; and the status of Taiwan. The two sides also discussed a range of international issues, including relations with the Soviet Union and the United States; developments on the Korean Peninsula; the Cambodian-Vietnamese conflict; the Iran-Iraq War; and Pakistan.

April 25, 1986

Meeting between President Chun Doo Hwan and President Samaranch

Meeting between President Chun Doo Hwan and President Samaranch

August 10, 1989

National Intelligence Daily for Thursday, 10 August 1989

The CIA’s National Intelligence Daily for 10 August 1989 describes the latest developments in Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Panama, the Soviet Union, China, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Korea, and West Germany.

June 30, 1988

Letter from the President of the International Olympic Committee to Roh Tae-Woo with a Proposal for Further Initiative Between South and North Korea

Letter from the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to the President of the Republic of Korea, Roh Tae-Woo, containing a confidential report written by Samuel Pisar of the IOC on South-North negotiations concerning the 1988 Olympics.

January 21, 1988

Letter from the International Olympic Committee President to Roh Tae-Woo, Requesting the Adjournment of the 'Team Spirit 88' Exercises for the Safety of the 1988 Seoul Olympics

A letter from IOC President Samaranch requesting that the South Korean government adjourn its "Team Spirit 88" exercises, a joint military display/exercise with the U.S., due to tensions involving the Olympics and North Korea.