≡ Menu

Roh’s Suicide Note

The suicide note Roh left on his computer will probably get published in the English-language media sometime soon, and to help out any lazy translators trawling K-blogs, I’ll offer my own translation of the original in Korean here.

I am indebted to so many people.
A lot of people have suffered because of me.
I can’t fathom their suffering more in the future.
The rest of my life will only be a burden.
I can’t do anything because of my poor health. I can’t even read or write anything.
Don’t be too sad. Life and death are both a part of nature.
Don’t be sorry. Don’t hold grudges against anyone. It’s fate. Cremate me and erect a small gravestone near my home. I’ve thought about this for a long time.

UPDATE: The 30-meter (100 feet) high cliff where Roh jumped can be seen in a KT photo here.

Roh is being warmly eulogized by politicians, academics, and the media in the PRC.

  • http://twitter.com/KimcheeGI KimcheeGI

    Songi,
    That’s OK, the Donga hasn’t been updated since this am according to their site:

    May 23, 2009 / Updated 09:57

    Guess the death of a ex-pres embroiled in scandal doesn’t warrant calling in any weguk translators….

  • Pingback: Dernières paroles de Roh Moo-hyun | Schizodoxe

  • Pingback: Roh Moo Hyun R.I.P. » The Hub of Sparkle!

  • http://nathanbauman.com/odysseus NathanB

    It’s a sad and beautiful note that remains both graceful and gracious. There’s something for everyone in it.

    I would like to say “Rest in peace, Mr. President,” but there’d be no point: after death, one isn’t resting pleasantly; one simply ceases to exist entirely. I hope that those close to him will be able to have peace with the passing of time.

  • Sonagi

    Actually, I find the note disturbingly impersonal, especially since it was left on the computer with the monitor turned on and not even printed out. The late Chung Mong-hun left behind hastily scribbled letters to his wife and other family members. Jang Ja-yeon left several handwritten notes, and inebriated Choi Jin-shil sent two text messages that hinted of her intent. I realize that not all who commit suicide leave behind notes, but if Roh took his life to spare others pain, I find it odd that he wouldn’t have left departing messages to those he loved most.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Me thinks it’s the family that pushed him to take the money… his kids complaining that they didn’t have all the nice stuff (trips, apartments, etc.) that all their friends had and the wife on top of that, probably telling him that no one would find out, etc. You deserve it… it’s not so much compared to all the other bribing going on, etc. I think you dig deeper into it, that’s what you’ll find.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    I think there will be hell to pay from the opposition party (Uri?) when Lee finally leaves office. There’s going to be ALOT of digging into LMB’s finances four years from now, that’s for sure.

  • mkaplan

    “UPDATE: The 30-meter (100 feet) high cliff where Roh jumped can be seen in a KT photo here.”

    Ouch!

  • http://anythinggoeskorea.wordpress.com mcnut

    calling off the investigation solves nothing and will continue the never ending cylcle of corrupt korean presidents

    the line that says “the rest of my life will be a burden” shows how selfish he was since now he is free of the burden BUT his family will be forever associated with it and have to deal it with in wherever they go

    i have spoken with people who said they are happy he is dead but i do not feel that way even if i thought he was a complete fool of a president

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “I think there will be hell to pay from the opposition party (Uri?) when Lee finally leaves office. There’s going to be ALOT of digging into LMB’s finances four years from now, that’s for sure.”

    Yes, but I’m not sure they’ll find anything. They’ve probably already started shredding paper and swapping hard drives if they have anything to hide.

    “calling off the investigation solves nothing and will continue the never ending cylcle of corrupt korean presidents”

    Someone is afraid of retaliation, I’d say.

    Once again, Koreans need to stop electing the same old farts. Youngish lawyers, preferably women and/or the ones who challenge the constitutionality of Korean laws in court, that’s the kind of people they should be electing.

  • bricolage

    ‘I can’t do anything because of my poor health. I can’t even read or write anything. Don’t be too sad. Life and death are both a part of nature.’

    Maybe the lack of notes, and the choice of using a computer is the point. It carries a stale kind of warmth, little character and can be easily deleted. He doesn’t have the energy or ability to erase his misdeeds, nor write a proper letter, so maybe his wish is to be remembered simply for what he was before, a boy in the country, a simple tombstone (the simple life he wished he had chosen?). The rest he wants deleted.

    I am not letting him off the hook for what he did. I am trying to describe how the note came to me. Maybe metaphors were the last thing on his mind. At any rate, it may come to you quite differently. And if his family ever reads this I apologize for speculating.

  • ulsanchris

    Does anyone else think it is possible that RMH’s wife might also commit suicide? Especially if she was the one who was pushing for her husband to take all the bribes.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    “It’s a sad and beautiful note that remains both graceful and gracious. There’s something for everyone in it. ”

    Are you serious? I couldn’t think of a sucide note that did a better job of expressing ‘cowards’ way out’.

  • chirp

    Sonagi,
    I kind of agree with you on that aspect, but think about it. He was kind of betrayed by his beloved ones & close ones…. what can you say to them on a suicide note? His wife took bribe behind his back, His staffs were handling black money behind him, His alleged big supporter? need not to mention.. He thought he was clean & he believed he was, but the circumstances dont seem to make him look clean. because …. he’s the captain.

    mcnut,
    well… that’s quite sure for now… (President Mr. Rat? hww… ) It hurts just because it might be true… and that makes me feel aweful.

    SomeguyinKorea
    Well, unless you’re a Mafioso, you can’t just bury secrets no matter how hard you try. If you really want to bury something for good, you have to eliminate every person related. And that’s why even the Mobsters get caught. People are proof.
    & about Koreans….. electing brilliant young lawyers…I hope they’ll do. People are getting sick of those old farts.

    Yu Bum Suk
    To whom might be my fellow country man, let’s just mourn for the time being . Give him some dignity wether you’ve opposed him during his time of office or not. Suicide in itself might be a indication of cowardness by nature, but that doesn’t mean he was a coward for all of his life. It’s just a cowardly choice among all choices made at that specific point of life that ends all choices for future amends.

  • chirp

    change aweful to awful.

  • mkaplan

    Whatever your opinions of Roh, and of his politics, it’s important to maintain some perspective.

    Roh and his family have gone through all kinds of shit for 6 million from a goddamn sock merchant.

    Bill and Hillary Clinton have amassed a fortune well in excess of 100 million, much of it obtained during their time in the White House. And much of it obtained from all kinds of shady businessmen, hostile foreign governments, etc.

    So much for self-righteous idiot Americans lecturing and complaining about endemic “Confucian” corruption in Korea…….

    It’s funny when expats in Korea, especially the military welfare queens, go all apeshit about Roh and criticize him for being open to North Korea and for being anti-American. They throw big words like “freedom” and “democracy” around. All while half their countrymen in the US would love to see the cold, amoral power hungry wife of a former President, become President (just like a S. American banana republic! awesome!), while the other half thought that a buffoon of a President mindlessly blundering into a war under false and retarded pretexts was a good idea.

    So in conclusion, a former President of South Korea and his family get hunted down and pursued for 6 mil. From a sock peddler. Said President, while unfortunate and tragic, maintains some degree of honor and commits suicide. Former US President makes out of Oval Office 100+ million richer. After spending 8 years in White House getting blown by an intern, bombing a few places around the globe, presiding over a placated citizenry sated by the illusory wealth effect of a massive asset price bubble. Another former US President stumbles into a massive trillion dollar war and another even bigger asset price bubble, bankrupts own nation, destroys 2 foreign nations, brings world economy to breaking point, and also manages to kill thousands of innocent men, women, and children. Both former US Presidents walk free and wealthy beyond any average individual’s dreams.

  • http://www.jdlink.co.kr Linkd

    Don’t Americans ever get tired of endlessly comparing themselves with Korea?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “Roh and his family have gone through all kinds of shit for 6 million from a goddamn sock merchant.”

    As they should.

    In Canada, we sometimes put our politicians to the ringer if they leave documents at their girlfriend’s home or give government contracts worth just a few thousand dollars to their relatives and acquaintances.

    Now, had you complained about the hypocrisy of the LMB administration for going after Roh…

    Oh, well, then I would have probably brought up the politically motivated investigations that occurred when Roh was president.

    An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind, apparently.

  • ziffel

    And in related news…
    and shame on me for this:

    AP Title:
    “Passer-by pushes suicide jumper in south China”

    Article:
    BEIJING – Chen Fuchao, a man heavily in debt, had been contemplating suicide on a bridge in southern China for hours when a passer-by came up, shook his hand — and pushed him off the ledge.

    Chen fell 26 feet (8 meters) onto a partially inflated emergency air cushion laid out by authorities and survived, suffering spine and elbow injuries, the official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday.

    The passer-by, 66-year-old Lai Jiansheng, had been fed up with what he called Chen’s “selfish activity,” Xinhua said. Traffic around the Haizhu bridge in the city of Guangzhou had been backed up for five hours and police had cordoned off the area.

    “I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest,” Lai was quoted as saying by Xinhua. “They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities’ attention to their appeals.”

    Xinhua said Lai was “taken away by police” but did not elaborate.

    A police officer who answered the telephone Saturday at a station close to the bridge confirmed the incident and said it was under investigation. He refused to give any other details and hung up.

    According to Xinhua, Chen wanted to kill himself because he had accrued 2 million yuan ($290,000) in debt from a failed construction project.

    On Thursday, he made his way to the Haizhu bridge, where 11 other people have tried to take their lives since April.

    Lai volunteered to talk Chen down but was turned away by police, Xinhua said. Lai then broke through the cordon, climbed to where Chen sat, greeted him with a handshake, then pushed.

    Photos in the Beijing Morning Post showed Lai, shoeless and in a T-shirt, saluting after Chen fell.

    The paper said Lai was released on bail Friday but did not give any details. It said he had been on medication for “a mental illness” for decades and had been on his way to a hospital for his pills.

    Chen was recovering in the hospital, Xinhua said.

  • mkaplan

    SomeguyinKorea,

    The point of my comment was not to argue that Roh was innocent of any wrongdoing or to defend his tenure as president.

    I think my comment makes that pretty clear.

  • t_song

    Anyone know if Roh Moo Hyun’s investigation into his family’s slush funds was weaker or stronger than previous president’s? What about the guy who allegedly took like $1 billion but said in public courts it was only like $200 (this is from thekorean’s site).

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    The point of my comment was not to argue that Roh was innocent of any wrongdoing or to defend his tenure as president.

    I think my comment makes that pretty clear.

    What you comment doesn’t make pretty clear, unfortunately, is the point. Roh was considerably less corrupt than Mobutu Sese Seko and did less damage to his country than the Burmese junta. How that’s relevant, though, is not exactly certain.

  • http://www.korealawblog.com Brendon Carr (Korea Law Blog)

    In Canada, we sometimes put our politicians to the ringer if they leave documents at their girlfriend’s home or give government contracts worth just a few thousand dollars to their relatives and acquaintances.

    Goddamn, this is grating, like fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s through the wringer. Does nobody understand the English language anymore? What’s happened to our education system, and why do such illiterates think they can teach?

  • bdiego

    What you comment doesn’t make pretty clear, unfortunately, is the point. Roh was considerably less corrupt than Mobutu Sese Seko and did less damage to his country than the Burmese junta. How that’s relevant, though, is not exactly certain.

    Exactly, nobody said Roh was Adolf Hitler. If your only defense of his actions is to attack others in broad strokes, you really don’t get it. Separate the sin from the sinner, may he rest in peace.

  • R. Elgin

    There’s going to be ALOT of digging into LMB’s finances four years from now, that’s for sure.

    Don’t forget that Roh deliberately stolen the official Blue House records and, to date, only one-third of them have been returned. No one knows just what is missing either.

    This man and his administration apparently had lots to hide and I would wager that bribery was only a small, insignificant part of it.

    The more I think about all of this, the more I wonder just what has happened.

  • Pyotr

    Slightly off-topic, but I quite liked this juxtaposition on the Korea Times article about Roh’s death:

    Notice From KT Website Manager
    Bad language will not be tolerated. All comments considered discriminatory against race or sex, or which are considered offensive against certain people, will be eliminated by the manager. Violators will be deprived of their membership.

    Followed by:

    dune6906 (221.162.25.150) 05-24-2009 15:52
    Tuscan, You can Burn in Hell you nasty cunt faced Korean. I hate you and hope you BURN in Hell. You can STFU too you slanted eyed bastard

  • rmeurant

    Hrrrummppppphhh, Brendon:

    Does nobody… – or – Doesn’t anybody… ? Or was it deliberate? Or another case of US vs UK English?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “It’s through the wringer.”

    I know, just as it is ‘wring someone’s neck’. It’s was a typo.

    rmeurant,

    He certainly isn’t James Joyce.

  • hardyandtiny

    “Does anyone else think it is possible that RMH’s wife might also commit suicide?”

    The less hair dye the better the environment. Bravo our lives!

  • colontos

    “Does nobody’ is perfectly fine and is a stylistic choice.

    The only thing worse than a grammar nazi is a wannabe grammar nazi that doesn’t know a fucking thing about grammar.

  • Gillian

    Does anyone else think that this just may not be a suicide? Who wakes up their body guard to go with them when they are going to kill themself? It obviously was not a spur of the moment thing, since there was a “Note.” And the “time” the note was written/ammended is an easy thing to arrange. And the quick release of the body with no postmortem exam, along with a creamation? All of this just smells fishy to me….

  • Sonagi

    @Gillian,

    I find the circumstances surrounding Roh’s death strange, too, and so have a few other commenters. The bodyguard was probably already awake. Among the peculiar details cited, what bothers me most is the brief, impersonal note left on the computer and the fact that Roh’s lawyer was so quick to distribute it to the media. I don’t believe Chung Mong-hun’s letters were ever released. I comment from the safety of the US, outside the reaches of Korea’s internet regulations. However, it would irresponsible to utter the m-word without evidence pointing to that conclusion. In a Chinese netizen poll of possible causes of death taken on May 23, about 65% chose murder over suicide or accident. It’ll be interesting to see North Korea’s official reaction.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “It’s was a typo.”

    Damn, that’s funny.

  • Wedge

    There ain’t no justice, is there? Big Al Gore has made over $100 million off man’s irrational fear of slightly fluctuating temperatures, flies around in a carbon-spewing Gulfstream and will benefit a lot further through his carbon trading firm from any carbon cap-and-trade scheme The Printer and Congress pass.

    And this poor sap goes down for a mere $6 million? Chun Doo-hwan is saying, “WTF? That’s only one percent of my take. What an amateur.” Still, if you campaign heavily against corruption and make it a key message of your administration, when you caught with your hand in the cookie jar suicide begins to look like a good option.

  • vince

    @Brendon
    Ever hear of the 80/20 rule? On a blog, grammar falls in the 20.
    Goes to 수나기씨 as well… function over form!

  • Sonagi

    수나기씨

    I hope that spelling error was deliberate.

  • Keyser Soze

    #23

    Dead men tell no tales. The question that the lefties will fail to ask themselves (as always) in the coming weeks is:

    “Who benefits from Roh’s silence?”

    The U.S.? How? Roh was already out of power with diminished influence and credibility; zero threat to U.S. interests.

    Korean conservatives? Not likely, considering that Roh may have been ready to spill the beans on some pinko Blue House skulduggery of the preceding ten years.

    So who would stand to gain from a hit on Roh? Who would rather his death didn’t come under a full inquiry?

    Nice timing on the DPRK nuke test this morning……

  • Pingback: Korea Beat › What a Weekend…

  • wookinponub

    Where’s the video? Aren’t these people constantly shadowed by cameras? Celebs and the like always have uber-zooms pointed at them.

  • rmeurant

    Well, colontos, you’re the one making the dogmatic statements, not me… I was reacting from my native intuition, but quite open to being mistaken. “Does nobody…” doesn’t sound quite right to my ear, anymore than “gotten” which seems to me alien to the English language. You may have a hang-up about imagined Nazism, but if you had bothered to read my earlier epistles, you would realize that I have been for many years, and remain, vehemently opposed to national socialism in all its various guises. But of course, you know better. You might even have discovered that I have felt the need to speak out in public in such political contexts, in defense of individual liberty, where to do so would inevitably bring painful sanctions. Whereas your blind intolerance speaks for itself. Perhaps it’s time to lay off the soju, and examine your own projections?

  • http://www.law4u.net/winnie ✿⊹⊱⋛☃⋚⊰⊹✿

    Noh was continually plagued and derided by the incumbent Lee et al and some accomplice prosecutors. They giggled, telling him “We will arrest you. We can imprison you.” in the face of the public.

    Who dare to translate it, http://wing4u.tistory.com/1461 ?
    I remember that MB’s office desk has no computer on a news clip. A real funny and incompetent gang.

    Noh and his families’ bribery scandals are not confirmed, but the prosecutors played on the media and now people believe that real bribery occurred.

    Hard-disk confiscation: it’s buried after heavy media play by Lee and his accomplices; they menaced him by saying that they will charge, arrest, ptrsecute and imprison Noh’s aides. Mission accomplished.

    Lee amputated Noh’s concerned; the most notorious case is Jeong Yeonjoo’s.
    There cannot be no crime when screend by the prosecutors.

    They acted like triumphant hunters, and Noh may have become fatigued when his helpers were imprisoned one and one and one and so on.

  • colontos

    Dear rmeurant,

    You’re a piece of shit.

    Sincerely,

    colontos

  • http://www.law4u.net/winnie ✿⊹⊱⋛☃⋚⊰⊹✿

    A lot of people have suffered because of me.

    means this. They trawled Noh’s people into meshes. Could you stand it?

  • http://www.law4u.net/winnie ✿⊹⊱⋛☃⋚⊰⊹✿

    ………if it had been written really by him.

  • cmm

    dear rmeurant,

    don’t feel bad. this is colontos’s normal reaction to those who disagree with him. it’s pretty much this simple in his great mind — if you dare go against him or his opinions (even on petty matters as simple as what is acceptable and understandable english, apparently), you are a piece of shit.

    anyway, welcome to the club of those whom COLONtos has most judiciously deemed to be pieces of shit. glad to have you.

    sincerely,
    cmm

  • colontos

    Glad to see you guys have found each other. Maybe together you can work through some things.

  • vince

    Hearsay regarding conspiracy murder hypothesis:

    Majority of adult, Korean engineering students at class last night are convinced it was murder to cover up a pending announcement from Roh. They mentioned inappropriate protocol on behalf of the body guard (no airlift and moving his broken body), the concerns Sonagi was pointing out regarding use of a computer of a final message, circulating expectations for this announcement from Roh, a hasty end to any investigation into possible foul play, and discrepencies between his wish to donate organs and the computer message asking for cremation him (destroy any potential evidence).
    Engineers are typically not your wild lefty types so I would not be surprised if this sentiment is widespread and building as I type this message. These folks also mentioned they are afraid the government would lock them up if they speak publicly about their feelings. I predict we’re going to have a very strange summer in Korea.

  • vince

    Sorry about the typos… ;)

  • Won Joon Choe

    “Engineers are typically not your wild lefty types…”

    Perhaps. But you forgot you are dealing with “Korean” engineers.

  • cmm

    yeah we are going to get together, gather all your posts, and then staple them onto the rear ends of our bibles and call it the Newer Testament. you’ll probably be glad to know that there will only be one book, named “colontos.”

  • Kalanios

    I flagged the note as suspicious the same as Sonagi. The suicide note in Korea is almost “traditional.” Even the suicide groups who meet on the internet — gather and then write a personal note to those left behind before they commit the act. An impersonal note left on a computer screen — and NOT PRINTED — is not rational for someone who is computer literate. I do not buy the Chosun Ilbo’s piece that the note showed his love of computers.

    Also the note was on a computer in a room that supposedly only Roh had access to. Then pray tell how did his aides get access to the secure room — and release the note to the media BEFORE the Busan police could confirm the contents of the note?

    I also note that the incident itself is very strange. A bodyguard looks over the edge and — whoops — the boss goes over. He didn’t even hear him moving to the edge. The only witness is someone who didn’t see a thing.

    Also heard an account from a student that I can’t corroborate. She said that the Korean news said that when Roh was getting ready to go out for the hike, his wife asked if he wanted her to go along. He said it was up to her. She was getting dressed when the incident occurred. Does a man contemplating suicide ask his wife to come along?

    However, the reality is what I think is not worth a hill of beans in this situation. The activists are going to try to raise a stink over Roh’s “political murder.” Roh’s death is just an excuse to get at LMB. The ROK national archivists will more than gladly sweep the missing harddrives under the table — along with the possible trail of compromised material to potential spies in South Korea (my hunch without proof). The Ministry of Justice will be glad to wash their hands of the potentially embarrassing probe that threatened to embroil LMB confidantes. Everyone wants this whole thing to be swept under the carpet and forgotten…

  • rmeurant

    Thanks cmm.

    As Hamel posted in a separate thread
    (Did This Dude Catch the Hipster Grifter?),

    ” #5 Colontos: you seem to have a lot of hatred for various people…”

    …plus a limited vocabulary and lack of imagination -
    “pile of shit”, “wannabe grammar nazi”, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

  • Pingback: SeoulPodcast #57: Under Quarantine | SeoulPodcast

  • Keyser Soze

    accidently came upon this oddly (now) titled article earlier this evening:

    http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200609/200609110011.html

  • Pingback: Happenchance » Roh Moo Hyun Suicide