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‘Whistleblower’ grandson of South Korean dictator detained for drug use

SEOUL (AFP) – A South Korean dictator’s grandson, who accused his family of corruption in a series of erratic social media posts, was detained for suspected drug use overseas when he landed back in Seoul yesterday.

New York-based Chun Woo-won, 27, the grandson of Chun Doo-hwan, attracted widespread media coverage in South Korea with a series of accusations about his family, streamed live on Instagram and YouTube.

South Korea is known to prosecute citizens for using illegal drugs while overseas.

Chun Woo-won was detained on arrival and was undergoing tests before police lay official charges, authorities said.

Chun took what he described as illegal narcotics during one recent broadcast, which ended with him being taken to hospital in an ambulance.

His father has said Chun suffers from depression. Chun had declared an intention to return to South Korea and be held accountable. He has also said he plans to apologise to victims of his grandfather’s rule in the 1980s. “I am grateful for an opportunity to apologise here in South Korea as a sinner,” he told reporters at Incheon International Airport as he was being led away by police.

Chun Doo-hwan was a military general when he took control of South Korea in a coup after the 1979 assassination of former leader Park Chung-hee.

He was president from 1980 to 1988 and became known as the “Butcher of Gwangju” for ordering his troops to put down an uprising in the southwestern city in 1980. Around 200 people were killed or went missing during the Gwangju uprising, according to official figures, but activists say the toll may have been three times higher. “I will cooperate earnestly with the police so I can apologise to the victims” of the Gwangju uprising, Chun Woo-won said.

Chun Woo-won surrounded by reporters at Incheon International Airport, South Korea. PHOTO: AFP
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