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Thousands mourn South Korea’s Roh

Mon., May 25, 2009

BONGHA, South Korea – Bowing deeply and laying white chrysanthemums before his portrait, tens of thousands of mourners journeyed Sunday to the southern village where former President Roh Moo-hyun killed himself by jumping off a rocky cliff overlooking his home.

But several top officials, including the prime minister, were turned away from the mourning rites for the liberal ex-leader, who had a fractious relationship with conservative opponents his supporters accuse of driving Roh to his death. They pelted a bus carrying conservative politicians with eggs and doused lawmakers with water.

The 62-year-old Roh, who rose from his impoverished youth in rural Gimhae to become president in 2003, died Saturday after jumping from a promontory overlooking his home. He left a note describing his suffering over corruption allegations.

Roh’s suicide, 15 months after he left office, came as he and his family faced intense questioning about $6 million given to the Rohs during his presidency by a Seoul businessman implicated in a number of bribery scandals.

Braving a downpour, nearly 80,000 trekked Sunday to Bongha, the village 280 miles south of Seoul where Roh had lived since leaving office, to pay their respects at mourning tents erected at the community center, police said. Hundreds of Buddhist monks in gray robes held a solemn prayer service.


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