Park Chung-hee

Park Chung-hee (Korean: 박정희, IPA: [pak̚.tɕ͈ʌŋ.hi]; 14 November 1917 – 26 October 1979) was a South Korean politician and army general who served as President of South Korea from 1961 until his assassination in 1979; he ruled as an unelected military strongman from 1961 to 1963, then as the third President of South Korea from 1963 to 1979.

Park Chung-hee
3rd President of South Korea
In office
24 March 1962 – 26 October 1979
Acting to 17 December 1963
Prime MinisterHimself
Kim Hyun-chul
Choi Tu-son
Chung Il-kwon
Paik Too-chin
Kim Jong-pil
Choi Kyu-hah
Preceded byYun Posun
Succeeded byChoi Kyu-hah
Prime Minister of South Korea[lower-alpha 1]
In office
16 June 1962 – 10 July 1962
Preceded bySong Yo-chan
Succeeded byKim Hyun-chul
Chairman of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction
In office
3 July 1961 – 17 December 1963
Preceded byChang Do-yong
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction
In office
16 May 1961  2 July 1961
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Personal details
Born(1917-11-14)14 November 1917
Gumi, North Gyeongsang, Korea
Died26 October 1979(1979-10-26) (aged 61)
Jongno, Seoul, Fourth Republic of Korea
Manner of deathAssassination
Resting placeSeoul National Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic Republican
Other political
Workers' Party of South Korea (1946–1948)[1]
Kim Ho-nam
(m. 1936; div. 1950)

(m. 1950; died 1974)
ChildrenPark Jae-ok
Park Geun-hye
Park Geun-ryoung
Park Ji-man
EducationTaegu Normal School
Manchukuo Army Military Academy
Imperial Japanese Army Academy
Korea Military Academy
Military service
AllegianceEmpire of Japan
Second Republic of Korea
Branch/serviceManchukuo Imperial Army (1944–1945)
Republic of Korea Army (1945–1963)
Years of service1944–1963
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
Korean name
Revised RomanizationBak Jeonghui
McCune–ReischauerPak Chŏnghi
Pen name
Revised RomanizationJungsu

Before his presidency, he was the second-highest ranking officer in the South Korean army and came to power after leading a military coup in 1961, which brought an end to the interim government of the Second Republic. After serving for two years as chairman of the military junta, he was elected president in 1963, ushering in the Third Republic. During his rule, Park began a series of economic reforms that eventually led to rapid economic growth and industrialization, now known as the Miracle on the Han River, giving South Korea one of the fastest growing national economies during the 1960s and 1970s, albeit with costs to economic inequality and labor rights. This era also saw the formation of chaebols, family companies supported by the state similar to the Japanese zaibatsu, with prominent examples including Hyundai, LG, and Samsung that remain dominant and influential in the country today.

Although popular during the 1960s, Park's popularity started to plateau by the 1970s, with closer than expected victories during the 1971 presidential election and the subsequent legislative elections. In 1972, Park declared martial law and introduced the highly authoritarian Yushin Constitution, ushering in the Fourth Republic. Political opposition and dissent was now constantly repressed and Park had complete control of the military, and much control over the media and expressions of art. In 1979, Park was assassinated by close friend Kim Jae-gyu, director of the KCIA, following the Bu-Ma student demonstrations.[3] Whether the assassination was spontaneous or premeditated remains unclear to this day. Economic growth continued in spite of the 1979 coup d'état and considerable political turmoil in the wake of his assassination. The country eventually democratized in 1987.

Park ruled South Korea as an authoritarian dictator, and remains a controversial figure in modern South Korean political discourse and among the South Korean populace in general, making a detached evaluation of his tenure difficult. While some credit him for sustaining economic growth, which reshaped and modernized South Korea, others criticize his authoritarian way of ruling the country (especially after 1971) and for prioritizing economic growth and social order at the expense of civil liberties and human rights. A Gallup Korea poll in October 2021 showed Park, Kim Dae-jung (an old opponent of Park that he tried to have executed), and Roh Moo-hyun as the most highly rated presidents of South Korean history in terms of leaving a positive legacy, especially among right-wing conservatives and the elderly.[4] Park's eldest daughter Park Geun-hye later served as the 11th president of South Korea from 2013 until she was impeached and convicted of various corruption charges in 2017.

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