Lee Byung-chul, South Korea’s ex-president who was pardoned by Kim Jong Un, dies at 90

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

Former South Korean strongman Lee Byung-chul, who was president from 1979-1981, has died. He was 90.

Lee ruled South Korea for four years before being ousted by a group of rebels in an attempted military coup. He was later convicted of corruption and once charged with attempted murder.

Lee, who also served as prime minister from 1972-1978, reportedly died of natural causes in the northern port city of Incheon, his lawyer Yang Dae-kim said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

Lee is credited with turning around the ailing state economy.

The evidence against him hinged largely on his lavish spending on the presidential home — the “Blue House” — an extremely opulent affair with workers driving the presidential limousine.

Lee was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of corruption and trying to kill another former president, Chun Doo-hwan, in 1978.

But he was pardoned several months before he took office and was dubbed the “Air Marshall.”

According to South Korea’s Yonhap, Lee joined the military in the 1950s and rose through the ranks until he was made prime minister in 1971, before being appointed as military head of the ruling party in 1972.

The country was rocked by massive protests during his presidency and Lee’s struggle with bringing the regime to an end.

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