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Roh Moo Hyun

Roh Moo Hyun (nō mōō hyŭn), 1946–2009, South Korean politician, president (2003–8) of South Korea. A self-educated lawyer who defended antigovernment activists in the early 1980s, he was elected to the national assembly in 1988 and served on the special committee investigating government corruption. Elected a second time in 1998, he subsequently served (2000–2001) as maritime affairs and fisheries minister under President Kim Dae Jung. Running as the Millenium Democratic party candidate, he was elected president in 2002. Early on his administration was hurt by the corruption scandals that have dogged South Korean politics and political parties, and he was hindered by a parliament dominated by opposition parties. His verbal support for the reformist Uri party, which split from the Millenium Democratic party, led to his impeachment (2004) by the national assembly because the constitution calls for the president to be politically neutral. Roh's impeachment was subsequently overturned, but the Uri party meanwhile won a majority in the assembly, becoming the first liberal party to control a South Korean government. Roh supported continued engagement with North Korea, and in 2007 he traveled to Pyongyang for the second summit between the presidents of North and South Korea. By the end of his term, however, relations between the nations had not seen significant improvement. In April, 2009 he was questioned concerning a $6-million bribery scandal that involved members of his family while he was in office; a month later he committed suicide.

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