(LEAD) Grandson of ex-President Chun apologizes to victims of 1980 democracy rising

A grandson of late former President Chun Doo-hwan on Friday apologized for the 1980 bloody crackdown that his grandfather carried out to quell a pro-democracy uprising in the southwestern city of Gwangju.

"My grandfather, Chun Doo-hwan, is a sinner who committed a huge crime," Chun Woo-won told reporters following a meeting with the victims and their family members in Gwangju, about 270 kilometers south of Seoul.

Chun, 27, has attracted widespread media attention after making a series of public accusations about irregularities and slush funds involving his family members on social media.

"Not only my family, but I am also an ugly sinner," the younger Chun said, expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to apologize to the Gwangju citizens whom he said have welcomed him warmly.

Chun also said he intends to attend an annual ceremony marking the anniversary of the democracy movement slated for May 18.

Chun Woo-won, who is based in New York and is the son of Chun's second son, Jae-yong, was released Wednesday after being arrested upon arrival in the country for investigation over suspected illegal drug use.

Police investigating drug charges, meanwhile, banned Chun from leaving the country on Friday as part the investigation.

Chun Doo-hwan, who served as president from 1980-1988 after seizing power in a 1979 military coup, is widely criticized for ordering troops to use force to put down the pro-democracy uprising that left hundreds of people dead.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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