Choi Kyu-hah, 88; South Korea’s former president, prime minister

From the Associated Press

Choi Kyu-hah, who was South Korea’s president for a short period in 1979-80, died Sunday of heart failure, hospital officials said. He was 88.

Choi lost consciousness at his Seoul home early in the morning and was taken to Seoul National University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the officials said.

President Roh Moo-hyun conveyed his “deep condolences” to Choi’s family and said the government would help with funeral arrangements, according to Roh’s office.


Choi, then the prime minister, became acting president in 1979 after the assassination of President Park Chung-hee. Choi was elected by a government committee as president in December that year but was forced to resign eight months later after a military coup. The coup leader then became president.

Choi was foreign minister from 1967 to 1971 and visited North Korea for negotiations in the early 1970s. He was presidential security advisor from 1971 to 1975 and prime minister from 1976 to 1979.

Born in Wonju, Gangwon province, Choi graduated from what is now the University of Tsukuba in Japan before beginning a career as a teacher.

Information on survivors was not immediately available.