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Hero soldier may get honorary degree from university

Dec. 7, 2023 - 15:25 By Yoon Min-sik
Jeong Seon-yeop while he was attending Dongsan High School (Dongsan High School)

Chosun University said Thursday it is seeking to present an honorary bachelor's degree to Jeong Seon-yeop, a soldier who died while resisting the military coup of 1979 that resulted in former dictator Chun Doo-hwan rising to power.

"We are seeking to present an honorary degree to honor the spirit of Sgt. Jeon, who perished while trying to resist the rebel forces," the university said. The degree is slated to be awarded in January, after a deliberation process and obtaining consent from the bereaved family.

Jeon, born in 1957, had been a student at Chosun University when he enlisted for his mandatory military service in 1977. All able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve in the military for a certain amount of time, which is now around two years but was nearly three years at the time.

He was guarding a bunker at the Ministry of Defense around 2:10 a.m. on Dec.13, 1979, resisting the rebel forces attempting to take the ministry. After his death, the junta government initially refused to bury his remains at the Seoul National Cemetery but ultimately gave in to requests from the bereaved family.

The movie "12.12: The Day," currently at the top of the South Korean box office, depicts the military coup of 1979 and one of its characters is based on Jeong.