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Nation bids farewell to former president amid political turmoil

Text by Nathalie TOURRET , , FRANCE 24 correspondent in Seoul, South Korea

Latest update : 2009-05-29

Crowds gathered on Friday as the body of former President Roh Moo-hyun, who committed suicide on May 23, was transported from his hometown to Seoul. Riot police have been mobilised in the capital to control the crowds.

Thousands of South Koreans paid tribute on Friday to former President Roh Moo-hyun, who commited suicide on May 23. Roh, who held office from 2003 to 2008, and his family were under investigation for corruption.

 

A compact crowd gathered in downtown Seoul to attend the official funeral ceremony, broadcast live on television and on giant screens. People paid their respects to the late president’s coffin, carried through the capital city’s streets in a limousine. People cried and shouted the former president’s name and tens of thousands of supporters wore yellow – Roh Moo-hyun’s campaign colour in 2002.

 

Since Roh Moo-hyun died, a seemingly endless stream of at least three million mourners have visited altars set up accross the country. Local authorities have been concerned by this popular fervour as some of the former president's supporters blame current South Korean president Lee Myung-bak for the corruption investigation that they believe drove Roh to his death.

 

Roh’s supporters have blocked a number of governement officials and ruling party legislators from entering Roh’s village. Conservative Lee Myung-bak responded by mobilising tens of thousands of riot police. Many mourners said this overwhelming presence has only sparked further anger at Lee.

 

Roh Moo-hyun’s ashes will be placed at a small temple  - where the memorial tablets of his late parents are enshrined -  for 49 days, before being buried on a hill near his residence.
 


 

Date created : 2009-05-29