[University]Columbia University Networks Global Alumni
Former President Choi Kyu-hah died early yesterday morning at the age of 88. A national funeral is likely be held on Thursday, government officials said.
Choi was found unconscious at his home in western Seoul around 6 a.m. and was taken to Seoul National University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:37 a.m., according to doctors and his family.
He had been suffering from a chronic disease attributed to his advanced age, according to his bereaved family members. Doctors said the exact cause of his death seems to be heart failure. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.
President Roh Moo-hyun sent his chief of staff, Lee Byung-wan, to the hospital to express his condolences to the family members and gave them a phone call in the afternoon, according to Chong Wa Dae.
Choi briefly served as acting president after then-President Park Chung-hee was assassinated by his top intelligence officer on Oct. 26, 1979, and later that year became the country’s fourth president, leading the 10th administration.
But he stepped down the next year reportedly because of pressures from Chun Doo-hwan, who took power through a military coup on Dec. 12, 1979. Chun appointed himself the country’s fifth president in 1980 after a massacre in May in Kwangju.
Choi had refrained from any political activities since then and kept quiet about whether he was forced to resign by Chun.
He served in various Cabinet posts under the Park administration _ foreign minister from 1967 to 1971, presidential advisor for security from 1971 to 1975 and prime minister from 1976 to 1979.
Born in Wonju, Kangwon Province, in 1919, he briefly worked as a professor at the College of Education of Seoul National University before starting his public service.