Ex-president Roh's life ends amid scandal

May 23, 2009 at 12:51 AM

SEOUL, May 23 (UPI) -- Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun took his own his life Saturday, a year after leaving office ensnared in a bribery scandal, authorities said.

Roh, 62, president from 2003 to 2008, threw himself off a mountainside near his home. In his last public statements, weeks before his death, he spoke of the shame he felt, The New York Times reported.

"You should now discard me," he wrote in a final posting on his Web site April 22. "I no longer symbolize the values you pursue. I am no longer qualified to speak for such things as democracy, progressiveness and justice."

Before his election to the National Assembly in 1988, Roh, a human rights lawyer, was known as a champion of students protesting the country's authoritarian government. He became president in a close election with support from young South Koreans helping him to win.

He quickly became mired in charges that he was incompetent and corrupt. He survived impeachment in 2004 when the Constitutional Court reversed a vote in the assembly.

Prosecutors were investigating charges that he solicited bribes from a businessman, and he, his wife and son had all been questioned. Several relatives, including Roh's brother, and former aides had been charged.

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