Korea Expat BLog

Central Seoul Traffic Blocked May 28 Ex-President Roh, Moo Hyun Funeral Service Parting Ceremony

amidst current administration’s fear of another mass candle-rally growing into a full-blown demonstration, ex-President Roh, Moo Hyun’s funeral has been proclaimed as a national ceremony, meaning : it will have access to all major plazas and roads reserved for the most highest of official events held in South Korea .

photo is of the last Official National Funeral October 26th 2006 of earlier ex-President Choi, Kyoo Ha
where Roh, Moo Hyun attended as President while in Office .
this is exactly the same place where tomorrow’s ceremony will be held .
Roh MooHyun attends former President Choi KyuHa funeral October 26 2006 

so the traditional funeral service in Korean families where the Funeral Ceremony is held and another parting ritual at the door prior to leaving then a short parade into the transport vehicle – is held in a grand scale matchable for a former head of state .

this will consist of his body making a South-North cross-country return trip within a single day . leaving his hometown residence at Bong Ha Village the motorcade will journey North to the capital of Seoul (400 km. 5 hours by highway and double that by road). this will consist of sedans and buses of kin, press and ambulance following his black funeral cadillac driven by his driver of 21 years Mr.Choi, Young sandwiched by police vehicles . driving at speed of 80 ~ 90 km per hour expect to arrive up in the Capital after 5:20 hours including stopovers .

once in central Seoul his parting service will be held within the gates of KyungBok Palace (right behind the statue of general Lee, Soon Shin – Korea’s protector from the Japanese invasion and across from the American Embassy). along the tunes of national marching band, official speeches of high administrators and head of several religious institutions take place . then a video of Roh, Moo Hyun’s life followed by flower placement by the current President and Ambassadors . expected to last 1:10 hours this will end with firing of 21 empty shots .

 20090528 mourning motorcade from KyeongBok Palace through DeokSu Palace

then a short motorcade South to a parting ritual (more of a solemn festivity of chorus songs originally done at parting gates of the deceased residence) at another central location the City Hall Plaza. this politically sensitive mass plaza was baricaded off with anti-riot unit buses since Roh, Moo Hyun’s death on the 23rd but will be open from 7 am May 29th . this schedule is intended for the general population who had not the previledge of attending the preceding ceremonies above . several popular older Korean singers are to perform with over 2000 mourning flags to stand .

after which a parting walk will be held along route South-West to Seoul Train Station . this is normally a 15-minute drive distance South to the burnt South Gate of SoongRaeMoon, then West to Seoul Train Station, where the futuristic glass KTX bullet train Station overshadow the old Station with sad tell-tales from the Korean War .

his body will be cremated at the Southern Satellite City of Suwon, which is normally 1 hour on the highway, amid another rite of several religions for a duration of 2 hours .

and another long return journey home to his Bong Ha Village, and his ashes to be placed alongside his parents tablet located in JungToWon Temple (where Roh avertedly sent his Security Officer to check if the master is there, while jumping to his death) very near his fateful Owl Rock on Bong Hwa Mountain .

[ Time Schedule on day 6 of death Friday May 29th ]
Ex-President Roh, Moo Hyun’s Funeral Service Parting Ceremonies
( please note there are stages in Korean traditional funeral service and mourning rites that is not directly applicable to Western culture)

  • 5 am – departure ceremony at Village Hall right next to Roh, Moo Hyun’s hometown residence at Bong Ha Village; consists of traditional Korean food prepared with close kin attending, then a 5 hour drive North to the Capital of Seoul,
  • 11 ~ 12:10 am – official parting ceremony at the front gardens of KyungBok Palace, kin and state officials attending,
  • 1 pm – parting ritual at (Seoul) City Hall Plaza; consisting of chorus songs with public attending,
  • 3 ~5 pm – cremation in Suwon (Satellite City on Southern borders of Seoul) on the way back South to Bong Ha Village,
  • 9 pm – ashes placed next to his parents’ tablet located in JungToWon Temple,
    Korean chrysanthemum 



[ day 6 Friday May 29th 2009 afternoon supplement ]
you gotta have seen it to believe it . was there a time when central downtown especially the “heroe’s walk” of KwangHwaMoon to City Hall Plaza was literally packed with standing civilians ? perhaps during the 2002 FIFA World Cup when Korea unbelieveably rose into semi-finals and Koreans HAD the right to gather en masse, as opposed to the endless anti-dictatorship demonstrations in the 80’s (you wouldn’t have seen anyone during 60’s and 70’s because security was so strict protesters were silently hurled away and locked up).

today’s main ceremony starting at KyungBok Palace : you could tell the current administration was in trouble . for when current President Lee, Myung Bak stood up to pay respects – 2nd after ex-President Roh, Moo Hyun’s direct kin – nasty comments started which among were “where do you think this is !” fellow Assembly members Paek, Won Woo and assistant speaker Kim, Hyun headed towards the President shouting “remit your sin of political reprisal you murderer !” dozens of security personel dashed to stop and even shut his mouth . then voices around arose to “do NOT touch him ! leave him alone !” TV cameras didn’t catch the conflict for it was directed at the President, but photos appeared on news sites around the country . and as President Lee continued to pay respects the massive citizen crowd at City Hall Plaza 2 large blocks away South watching the scene on large-screen ad panels rose in shouting more criticism .

090529 mourning ceremony for former President Roh, Moo Hyun at SEOUL PLaza in front of City Hall

ofcourse there were citizen fractions against even holding this official mourning period stating a corrupt ex-President took the easy way out . yes Koreans even within the South, is divided . and in the North one of the last standing Communist Regime was about to shoot off another (neuclear) missile test .

[ evening supplement ]
massive crowds at major ceremony sites as well as on the road some not eager to let the ex-President go, has delayed the day-full of mobile mourning 3 hours that 7 pm he has now entered cremation process at Suwon a Satellite City South of the Capital (an hour drive on the highway) where almost 7000 mourners were waiting . after the many rites his family had to repeat today in ceremonies reserved for Kings, they lastly cried in despair when his coffin went in . (the family chose a normal coffin instead of a lavish one to reflect his humble personality) cremation is expected to last another hour meaning the family still has a long~ way to go down South, arriving near midnight . . this cremation site was chosen because it is close to the exit ramp from the highway from Seoul back South to his hometown of Bong Ha Village .

everybody including me, was surprised at the outcome of packed crowds everywhere . this now reminds me of master Jedi : Obi-Wan Kenobi who sacrificed himself to be struck dead by Darth Vader, and becomes stronger than ever before in the original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy of Episode IV . if you are unfamiliar with Star Wars think Phoenix rising from the ashes . and by starting out today’s ceremony in his hometown right next to KimHae, a Satellite City of Korea’s  2nd and Port City Busan (Pusan), located at the South-Eastern end of the Korean Penninsula .. then holding the main ceremony up North in the Capital .. and being cremated here in Suwon in the Central Region .. has allowed more people from the whole geographical South Korea to come attend the historic event, thus making this a truly national phenomenon . yes this was a national mourning day but you could feel ‘A New Hope‘ forming every time someone in the rear shouted his name in might all~ along the stages of today’s ceremonies .

imminent to his suicide Roh, Moo Hyun was an almost forgotten President who secluded back to his hometown village at the corner of the Penninsula then supposedly “killed off” by his political adversaries . and if the last cornering-in from the prosecutors was intentional they have now made him a step short of a national hero  – very, rarely witnessed in modern Korea . and in the end even if he did NOT achieve much politically, he has now left his family in good hands – the very duty of a responsible parent in Korean culture . still you wonder if there was a way to have done all this without dire /death/ .

20090529 mourners gather again in the evening at SEOUL Plaza on return route to presidential Blue House

[ late night supplement ]
late afternoon as police anti-riot units moved in to barricade again the nationally sensitive City Hall Plaza in the Capital of Seoul after the 2nd leg of ex-President Roh, Moo Hyun’s parting ceremonies, citizens who earlier took hold won’t let go . and this time the authorities didn’t push it . and later in the evening after the crowd saw Roh’s motorcade off at Seoul Train Station they returned here again and lit candles 10:30 pm into the night . and holding still .

[ day 7; morning after ex-President Roh, Moo Hyun’s parting ceremonies ]
just to clear confusion amidst different language and cultural practice : Roh’s Funeral was done at his home immediately after his death, while mirrored mournings held at a handful of hotspots in the Capital of Seoul . the ceremonies yesterday although some translated as Funeral were more of a traditional Parting Ceremony expanded into national proportions due to his stature as former Head-of-State . mirrored mourning services are still being held at those locations after he has been cremated due to endless attendance waiting in long~ lines .

and beware a storm is about to hit . not the annual Typhoon that looms around the Orient in the Summer, but coordinated rallies and demonstrations from several major workers and student groups trying to form a human ‘Perfect Storm’. I believe they were scheduled to be held well into June, but obviously they are going to take this chance now that yesterday’s mourning crowd have hold of City Hall Plaza in the above photo – while police anti-demonstration units are not pushing in to retake it in fear of backlash . the groups have announced the authorities should NOT block considering it follows the ex-President’s mourning period .

many events are entangled leading to these rallies including the accidental burning of protestors at YongSan Redevelopment Site 3 months ago and shut down of manufacturing plants due to recession such as automaker SsangYong 2 days ago .

2 major spots scheduled for rallies and demonstration are, this afternoon May 30th :

  • 2 pm at YoiDo island Cultural Plaza : gathering of several (cargo) transport groups,
  • 4 pm at City Hall Plaza : gathering of workers’ unions and student groups,

[ CORRECTION ] the police seem to have retaken the Plaza as of 6 am and minor aguments spiked around the area in the process . even yesterday there weren’t any major clashes where the most violent were people throwing (filled drinking) water bottles at buses containing anti-demonstration units . also the police seem to have disassembled most mourning tables by now where people paid respect throughout the night . perhaps it is the police being overtly cautious calling in so many troops at the onset of Roh’s death as to barricade major chokepoints in the Capital when the people merely wanted to set up mourning desks .

090530 police blockade around SEOUL Plaza the next morning after Roh, Moo Hyun funeral
Jesus .. compare this photo to the crowd-packed one above – the vanity of Man,

I might add that the bulk of these anti-demonstration units are NOT actual police officers, but boys right out of high school drafted (mandatory in Koreas) by the military and procured to the police then stationed depending upon their profile such as place of residence and education – go look closely and you will see what I mean .

– all this is breaking news so might be wrong or situation changed since 8 am –

all the while foreign dignitaries are flying in to attend Korea-ASEAN Special Summit Conference in the Southern-most leisurely Jeju island on June 1st ~ 2nd,
and off the West Coast : Chinese fishing boats hailing away from Korean waters in fear of North Korea’s ICBM about to strike anytime now ..

well, Korea seems to have all the excitement now internal AND external .
below is the first-strike counter-action scenario . Hello ~ Tom Clancy are you there ?
20090530 Southern military counter scenario in case of North Korean attack on West Sea

[ day 7 Saturday afternoon May 30th supplement ]
by 6 pm demonstrators come up afront anti-riot units surrounding City Hall Plaza (officially : ‘Seoul Plaza’). police are even blocking subway exits onto this major intersection . do not expect violence for South Korea is not a violent place by nature (after the Korean War that is) but among the groups are workers’ unions .

20090530 Seoul City Hall Plaza Closed OFF_10 20090530 fully blocked City Hall Subway Station entrance at Seoul Plaza 

[  Epitaph ]

Summer 2002 while Roh, Moo Hyun was running for Presidency
together with his direct family on his older brother Keon Ho’s aging birthday :
(traditionally a festive event heralding 60th, 70th and 80th birthdays)
Roh had said Keon Ho was his relying pillar since their eldest brother passed away early .
however Keon Ho was indicted for receiving bribery on December 4th 2008
which started the implied “political cornering” of Roh, Moo Hyun .

family gathering at Roh, Moo Hyun younger brother birthday Summer 2002

post-war South Korean Presidents have been either from the Military, representing business sector, or vouching for the working class . he was the latter, from a small town in the South Eastern corner of the Korean Penninsula .

without a college degree – deemed an initial passport in a country trying to develop into whatever means out of war-torn days of poverty – he passed the Bar and chose to become a lawyer protecting the young and weak of the few who were standing up against a series of rigid dictatorship .

he won Presidency in 2003 (Korean term is 5 years) not necessarily because of over-popularity but the people felt betrayed by corrupt former administrations, again .. the people had won over democracy by endless demonstrations on the streets that covered most of Korean metropolis in the 80’s . this ended the line of neo-military rule of Park, Chung Hee; Chun, Doo Hwan and Roh, Tae Woo .

{ when the first “Democratic” President Kim, Young Sam moved into ChungHwaDae -Presidential ‘Blue House’ – he later said he found hostess-salons inside the compounds – presumably used to entertain foreign dignitaries – and a huge~ volt inside the residence where he suspects cash was stashed-in as soon as receiving as bribes from large conglomerates;  both of which he ordered torn down immediately }
thus was the heritage of Korean Presidency as economy developed .

080428 former President Roh, Moo Hyun riding bicycle on suburban fields it was the start of a bright future with following Presidents Kim, Young Sam in favour of the growing business sector and Kim, Dae Jung another “people’s President” both of whom to Roh, Moo Hyun was sided under . but again both eventually wronged as their predecessors . beginning with their sons taking bribes to act as if to have influence over the Presidents’ decisions – testament of how the important ‘family’ heritage in Korean culture extends in an eroneous path .

Roh, Moo Hyun with a rural accent and openly heralding political discussions on the air (TV) seemed different .. until gradually his too liberal endeavours cashed in every direction in a nation of rigid politics . more so a year after he returned to his hometown : 2008 : prosecutors started probing into the bribery case of chairman Park, Yeon Cha of a shoe manufacturer . a scandal insuing into national proportions : Roh’s relatives and family is found to have received a clunch of his bribes (as was the fact with most former Presidents’ families). yes the people were saying .. “oh, no wonder”. but the figures appearing seemed peanuts compared to his predecessors . more intriguing is the fact that prosecutors who hadn’t charged families of former Presidents to such an extent went on to corner-in on Roh’s close colleagues and then into his immediate family . then they began gaining in on Roh himself, calling him in for questioning . on the long journey in a dedicated bus up to the Capital from his hometown he seemed truly regretting how he of all Presidents have ended up the same, short of acknowledging direct receipt of bribes .

and when news spread that he commited suicide the people were at awe .. they did not understand, for former Presidents were supposed to live  like a King in a grand mansion with own security, driving around in chauffeured limousine and heirs now operate businesses with sudden money from abroad . furthermore, repeated airing of Roh, Moo Hyun’s past achievements – especially his rising speech against then authoritarian rulers – touched people’s long forgotten hearts . (but again, this had a lot to do with disappointment with the current administration) noteable were his memorial photos of a still-humble President riding downhill in a simple sleigh and on a bicycle along a quiet farmland, where the most Korean of things are rooted at .

– may he go in peace –


20080911 former President Roh, Moo Hyun riding bicycle

here is a streaming video of ex-President Roh, Moo Hyun on his bicycle ride around his hometown of Bong Ha Village with his granddaughter . this was taken this January 2009 a year after he left office and just prior to Chairman Park, Yeon Cha GATE bribery scandal beginning to point one of the many fingers towards him .


Bong Ha Village is located at the North-Western border of KimHae, a Satellite City again North-West of South Korea’s 2nd and Port City Busan (Pusan). if you happen to live in Busan you can take an out-of-city bus from SaSang Bus Terminal at Busan’s West-End just before crossing NakDong River onto KimHae Airport serving Busan . should take less than an hour .
his address is : 30 Bong San Ri, Jin Young Eup, Kim Hae City, Kyung Sang Nam Do, South Korea .

090530 home map of 16th Korean President Roh, Moo Hyun

a small village with population of 120 in 44 households as of January 2009, Bong Ha Village means “a village under Bong Hwa Mountain”. and if you do go there I suggest you try local rice, for Roh produced his own brand for a year in 2008 . plus the whole of this South-Eastern end of the Korean Penninsula is known for soothing hot springs – though not in this immediate area .

I say this for this is going to be a major tourist attraction now .



events leading to his death is covered here :


[ now a month after – June 30th supplement ]
the “national sentiment” is calming down as passers-by now sigh at some of the still-standing mourning sites around the country . last week a larger one across Seoul City Hall was torn down by “opposing groups” early morning when the keepers were asleep while nearby anti-riot police did nothing to get involved .

in retrospect : ex-President Roh, Moo Hyun’s death in the midst of cornering bribery investigation did NOT jump-start a nation-wide demonstration because he was a mediocre President while in Office . and on the other side of the coin : the current administration was over-sensitive AND over-cautious in deeming his funeral and mourning services as a catalyst to potential national up-rising . in old Korean wisdom this would indicate the bribery investigation may well have been a political retribution after all -_-

but again all this is the product of a series of Presidents elected NOT because they are great nor saught-after, but merely because there weren’t any better choices at the time . the fately Karma of modern Korea .


the late Roh, Moo Hyun’s son Roh, Geon Ho is known today to return to his father’s hometown of BongHa Village, and live aside his widowed mother . he has been accepted for employment in regular recruit at LG Electronics on July 2002 and attending School of Management at Stanford University since October 2008 . (during the bribery probe : the ex-First Lady revealed a large part of bribery she accepted was spent for this son’s study abroad) he has since reverted to duty at LG Electronics office in San Diego as of this January but has returned to South Korea on April 12th to attend as a witness on his late father’s bribery investigation .

his decision to quit the company to return to BongHa Village may have more to do with administrative logistics at his LG Electronics office, since he has been away from duty over 2 months for the bribery investigation AND his fathers national funeral, while his quota for leave of office under labour law is 17 days .

1 Comment

Thank you, thank you, thank you. A viewpoint in English from a Korean citizen for us to read. In this nationwide mourning, you are a witness to history. I have copied your posts on the death of ROH Moo Hyun as a source of history – an historical record to show what has has happened over the last few days in the eyes and hearts of citizens. The best, and most comprehensive, I have seen so far on the web. Thank you again. I am sorry for the loss of the Korean nation. It was also a loss for all mankind, as he fought for common rights as others have had to fight around the world. I knew of him, and I share in your grief.

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