Park Chung Hee


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(b. 30 Sept. 1917, d. 26 Oct. 1979).

President of the Republic of Korea 1963–79 Born in Sonsan into a poor family, he became a primary school teacher in 1937. In World War II, he went to Manchuria and received training at the Manchukuo as well as the Japanese Military Academy. After the war, he went to South Korea to enlist in the Korean Constabulary, which was soon transformed into the armed forces. As one of the army's senior members he led the 1961 May Military Revolution. He formed a military junta, and in 1963 had himself formally elected President. While maintaining a politically illiberal regime, he encouraged industrial development and educational reforms. In 1971–2, he changed the constitution to the Yushin (Revitalizing Reform) rule. This created a fully authoritarian government. He banned all anti‐government activities, while many intellectuals were arrested and killed. He proclaimed martial law in 1972 and was then re‐elected twice in 1972 and 1978. His government not only became increasingly authoritarian, but also increasingly corrupt. He was assassinated by the head of the South Korean Central Intelligence Agency.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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