China Marines: Boxer Rebellion 1900

Late on the evening of May 31st 1900, Captain John Twiggs Myers, 49 Marines with fixed bayonets and three sailors with a Colt automatic gun led a force of 337 men from six nations up Legation Street in Peking. They had rushed to the Chinese capital to guard their countries’ legations.

The city was boiling with the ferment and dangers of the Boxer Rebellion, an uprising based on a fanatical hatred of foreigners and Christians. The Boxers were rampaging violently through the countryside, and 500 foreigners in Peking were tense and anxious. In response to the diplomats’ call for armed help– over the protests of the Empress Dowager Tüz His and her government–the men assembled from 17 warships gathered off the Taku bar, ferried to the small port of Tangku and sent on by boat and railroad. They detrained at the terminal outside Peking’s walls amid a vast and ominous throng of Chinese and marched to their posts, a tiny to face amass upheaval.

The Boxer Movement had flared up two years earlier among the peasants of North China. It sought to restore the potency of the Peking regime and to exterminate the foreigners. The feeble Imperial authorities were unable to control the Boxer’s violence and in the end openly supported their murdering sweep across the land.

The foreigners had long been asking for trouble. The decaying and corrupt Manchu Dynasty had tried futilely to keep them out of China and had permitted foreign merchants to do business only six months a year in precisely limited areas on the Canton waterfront. The arrangement was unrealistic, given the pressures of Western industrialization. The Opium War between Britian and China and the resulting Treaty of Nanking in 1842 had forced China to permit trade at four additional ports and to cede the island of Hong Kong.

This started an avalanche. In the decades that followed, France, Russia, Portugal, Italy, Japan, and Germany all occupied, annexed, controlled, grabbed chunks of China. And China’s defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 spurred their greed. Germany seized the port of Kiaochow; Russia demanded and received leases to Port Arthur and Darien, and France grabbed a naval base and a hugh sphere of influence in southern China. By the end of the century, foreign powers had carved most of China into areas of economic domination. And the avaricious rivalry continued. The Chinese did not have the strength to resist.

The United States was not much involved in this rush to the trough. It had signed the Treaty of Wanghia in 1844, demonstrated its muscle in the battles at Canton forts in 1856 and established a legation in Peking. But before the annexation of the Philippines planted the American flag across the Pacific, the United States had claimed no sphere of influence; and U.S. national policy, when it was finally crystallized in March 1900, called for an “Open Door” that would increase the potential American trade with China.

Meanwhile in September of 1898, the Empress Dowager deposed her reform-minded nephew; and her new reactionary leadership decided to stop appeasing the powerful foreigners. As one response, Marine detachments were stationed briefly at Peking and Tientsin.

By the beginning of 1900, the Imperial leaders were prepared to modernize the Chinese army and even to accept the Boxer’s support. The anti-foreign spirit had spread. The xenophobic Boers butchered Christian missionaries and converts, the symbols of the Western presence in the countryside. Claiming magical powers that made them invulnerable in battle, the Boxers fanned the peasants’ supersitiousness and aroused hopes that partially offset their despair over the famines of the previous two years. Racing across the North China, the Boxers neared Peking in May 1900, terrifying the foreigners there.

The arrival of the legation guards eased their fears. On June 3rd, German and Austrian sailors strengthen their defenses. But the Boxers continued to burn and kill near the city. Imperial Troops fraternized with them. After the boxers cut the railroad, Captain Myers suggested that the legations organize a common defense. On June 8th, Boxers severed the telegraph line. Isolating Peking; and on June 9th, they destroyed the racetrack three miles outside the city and burned a Chinese Christian in the flames. Myers sent Captain Newt H. Hall and 20 Marines to protect the people in the Methodist Mission, three-quarters of a mile from the legations. Hall’s men dispersed a threatening crowd with bayonets.

Rear Admiral Louis Kempff, who arrived at Taku in the cruiser U.S.S. Newark on May 27th, cabled the Navy Department for a battalion of Marines from the Philippines. The Diplomats in Peking now called for a relief force, and on June 10th, the first of five trains with 2,129 men from eight countries left Tientsin by railroad for Peking. They never got through.

The relief expedition was led by British Vice Admiral Sir Edward Seymour. The first train carried half the British contingent of 915 men and all 112 American sailors and Marines. The Americans were led by Captain Bowman H McCalla USN, captain of the Newark, who had put Marines ashore at Guantanamo exactly two years earlier. At Langfang, halfway to Peking, on the evening of the second day, the expedition found the rails torn up and the station and water tanks torn up. He weather was intensely hot and drinking water scarce. On the afternoon of the third day at a place called AN Ping, Boxers attacked the trains. They were thrown back, leaving so 60 dead; but they attacked again and again, recklessly. The Boxers destroyed the tracks behind the expedition; the fifth train could not shuttle back to Tientsin as planned.  The expedition was trapped. Seymour decided to fall back to Yangtsun; and by June 19th, burdened with 264 wounded, he gave up any idea of going on to Peking and started down river to Tientsin, with three Marine sharpshooters at the point. The expedition had failed because Seymour insisted, with a don’t-give-up-the-ship stubbornness, on sticking to the railroad.

Meanwhile, on June 13th, 1,600 Russian troops arrived at the foreign settlements outside the walls of Tientsin. This was the second most important city of North China, with a million inhabitants, located 30 miles from the coast and 80 miles from Peking. The foreign settlements there were now defended by a force of 2,400. On the night of the 15th, much of the French settlement was burned by the Boxers.

The foreign navies off Taku attacked the four forts at the mouth of the Pei Ho River on June 17th. Only the Americans stayed out of the battle. Rear Admiral Kempff felt he was not authorized to participate; Washington was suspicious of the other powers motives. Also, it was a Presidential election year and “imperialism” was an issue of intense controversy.

Nine hundred assault troops captured the Taku forts in heavy fighting. Their victory kept open the route to Vice Admiral Seymour, to Tientsin, and, it was hoped to Peking. It also brought the Chinese armies into battle against the foreigners. The Chinese bombarded and attacked the Tientsin settlements in strength. The defenders fought from behind barricades of bales of cotton, wool and rice improvised by a twenty-five year old American mining engineer named Herbert Hoover.

By the night of June 20th, the Tientsin garrison was low on ammunition; and a young British civilian, James Watt, and three Cossacks made a heroic 12 hour ride to Taku for help. A relief column set out. A force of 140 U.S. Marines, the first to arrive from Cavite and led by Major Waller, left Taku in a commandeered railroad train for Tientsin. They were joined by 440 Russian infantrymen and camped 12 miles from the city. Stopped by a blown-out bridge, the column detrained and marched toward Tientsin, fighting from village to village. In one two-hour battle, four Marines were killed and nine wounded; the Marines and Russians were forced back to their camp of the previous night, the Marines served as rear guard. Lieutenants Smedley D. Butler and A. E. Harding and four enlisted men carried a badly wounded Marine private for six miles. The enlisted men received the Medal of Honor; the two lieutenants were breveted.

Bolstered by a British naval detachment and additional Russian troops, some 2000 men started out again for Tientsin. With the Marines in the van, they battled their way to the foreign settlements.

After resting 12 hours, the relief force next went to the rescue of Seymour’s missing expedition, which had fought down the Pei River and was now Holed up eight miles from Tientsin in the German built Hsiku Arsenal. “We are going to the relief of our comrades or die trying to reach them,” Marine Private James J. Sullivan wrote in his diary. From the arsenal, a squad of British Marines had tried to reach Tientsin; all of them were captured and decapitated. The relief force reached Seymour at noon on June 26th, blew up the arsenal and escorted the battered expedition into Tientsin. Private Sullivan wrote, “We were not attacked on our way back having an army of 4,000 men, and we could lick 5 times that number of Chinamen” (Sullivan was to die on the march to Peking)

Seymour’s men carried out 232 wounded, including 28 Americans. They had 62 dead, among them four Americans. The fresh relief force guarded the long, slow moving column on the retreat. Seymour’s decimated expedition was finished as a fighting force. Captain McCalla, who had been wounded three times, turned his men over to Major Waller and returned to his ship.

The Russians at Tientsin now attacked the Chinese and were thrown back. A British naval detachment and 42 U.S. Marines led by 2nd Lieutenant Wade L. Jolly then reinforced them, and together they drove the Chinese from their fortified positions.

The tireless Waller wrote of his Marines: Our men have marched 97 miles in the five days, fighting all the way. They have lived on about one meal a day for about six days, but have been cheerful and willing always. They have gained the highest praise of all present, and have earned my love and confidence. They are like Falstaffs army in appearance, but with brave hearts and bright weapons.

Five had been killed and eleven wounded. (On the outside of the envelope of his report which he sent through Commander Frederic M. Wise of U.S.S. Monocacy, Waller peened this note: “Captain Wise: Please open and read and add Russian casualties, 2 killed, 9 wounded, I need whisky”)

In Peking, back on the morning of June 11th, the foreigners had waited at the railroad station for Seymour’s expedition, which did not come. That afternoon, the chancellor of the Japanese legation returned to the station alone and was murdered by Chinese troops, who cut out his heart and sent it to their general.

Two days later, the Boxers ranged the city in force, killing Chinese Christian converts and burning and looting foreign stores and churches. Marines went out to rescue, shooting and Boxers they saw. Captain Myers later wrote: It was realized at the time that these rescuing parties served to inflame the Boxer element more deeply against the foreigners, but it was more that flesh and blood could stand to see the terribly burned and lacerated bodies of those who escaped into our lines, and refuse to send aid to their comrades known to be still within the power of the fiendish Boxer hordes

After the foreign navies seized the Taku forts, the Chinese attacked the Peking legations. On the 2oth, the 55 day siege of Peking began with an assault on the Austrian mission. The German minister, Baron Klemens von Ketteler, was killed. Captain Myers, with 15 Marines and 20 British and Russians, ventured out and escorted in Captain Hall and his Marines, as well as 26 American missionaries, their families and a horde of converts who had taken refuge in the Methodist Mission. By 6 P.M., the isolated Legation Quarter, an area three-quarters of a mile square and now jammed with more than 3,000 people, was under constant attack.

The Marines and the Germans, whose legations were the southernmost, manned a section of the Tartar City Wall, which formed the southern side of the Quarter. It was imperative to prevent the Chinese from dominating the legations from the top of a 45 foot high wall. On the twenty-fourth, the American Marines and the Germans pushed out from their back-to-back positions atop the wall. They took casualties, but secured a section of the wall overseeing the Quarter and built barricades of bricks, stones and beams to hold it. The Chinese put up barricades facing them.

The Marines kept a guard of 15 men on the 40 foot wide top of the wall, relieving them at night. A half-dozen Marines manned a trench leading to the legation and another seven or eight held a barricade at Legation Street.

The Chinese made their only assault on the wall on the 27th. They crept out from their barricade, 400 yards from the Marines, and tried to catch them napping in the heat of the afternoon. The Marines waited until the Chinese got within 200 yards and then mowed them down. The survivors fled.

The intensity of the Chinese attacks on the legation increased. On June 28th, Captain Hall, under intense fire, temporarily abandoned the position on the wall. By July 3rd, a quarter of all foreign military professionals had been killed or wounded. As is so often the case, many of the best men were among the first to fall.

At 3 A.M. that morning Captain Myers led 14 Marines, 16 Russians and 25 British Marines over the barricade in the most important counter-offensive of the siege. Attacking through the darkness and rain, they shoved back the Chinese and killed many of them in hand-to-hand fighting. Myers was badly wounded in the right leg by a Chinese spear. Two Marines, Privates Albert Turner and Robert E. Thomas (Myers called them “two of the best men in the guard”) and one Russian were killed.

Myers was breveted a Major for his heroism; and when a monument to the British Marines was erected outside the Admiralty in London, one bas-relief depicted the American Marine captain leading his men on the Peking wall. Myers, who came from a distinguished military family, was a great-nephew of Major Levi Twiggs, U.S.M.C., killed at Chapultepec. His father was the quartermaster general of the Confederate Army and after the Civil War had moved to Wiesbaden, Germany, where the future Marine was born. The family came back when the boy was five years old. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and joined the Marine Corps in 1895.

Inside the Legation Quarter, conditions worsened. Sanitation was impossible and the stench was foul. Rice and pony meat were the best of the diet. The trapped foreigners were tortured by torrential rains and heat up to 110 degrees in the shade. He Chinese bombarded the the Quarter with cannon and steadily inched their barricades closer and closer. The defenders found an ancient bronze gun, and Gunners’ Mate Joseph Mitchell of the U.S. Navy adapted it to fire ammunition made for a Russian 9 pounder that had been left behind at Tientsin. Although it had no sights “Betsy,” as the gun was called, was used effectively at short range.

July 13th was a terrible day. The Japanese, who won unanimous praise for their effective fighting throughout the siege, were pushed back in the northern section. The Germans saved their area with a bayonet charge. The British were severally pressed, and the Americans fought fiercely on the wall. At dusk, two mines exploded under the French Legation; and the Chinese swept in. The French shoved them back out. Five defenders were killed that day and twice that number wounded.

Two nights later, Captain Hall, now in command, and Private Daniel J. Daly of Glen Cove, New York, went to the top of the wall at 9 P.M. to determine where to build a new barricade nearer the Chinese position. When the coolies failed to show up with the necessary sandbags, Hall went down to find them. Daly volunteered to stay. He held the top of the wall alone with his bayoneted rifle all that night.

On the 13th, the situation in Tientsin also came to a crisis. The Chinese had been shelling the foreign settlements continually. The old walled Chinese city, now garrisoned by 12,000 Imperial troops and 10,000 Boxers, was shaped like a square; the middle of each side was pierced by a fortified gate, which could be approached only by a causeway. Each causeway was bordered by open fields, canals, and marshes.

The allies had assembled about 14,000 men, many of them colonial troops from Indochina and India, to attack against the South Gate, supported by the Americans, British and French. The Russians were to threaten the city from the rear.

Colonel Robert L. Meads, U.S.M.C., had arrived at Taku on June 25th from Cavite. A tall, slime, peppery veteran of the Civil War and the war against Spain, he was now fifth-eight. Meade commanded the First Marine Regiment, 451 officers and men, and the United States Ninth Infantry–a total of 1,021 men–brought from the Philippines. They were brigaded with the Second Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and a British naval force, all led by Brigadier General A. R. F. Dorward of the British Army. The general inspired no ones’ confidence. His attack was badly planned, and by nightfall he would run up 700 casualties.

The causeway was the only way to reach the South Gate, but Dorward extended his men the length of the wall, exposing them to enemy fire they could not return. They were slaughtered. The Japanese came straight up the causeway and took the most casualties. The Americans led by Colonel Meade advanced on the Japanese right across a marshy plain. The Marines, armed with Krag-Jӧrgensen rifles, struggled through the flooded rice paddies, moving up in rushes of 50 to 75 yards. Chinese batteries and snipers enfiladed the Americans’ line and forced them over toward the centre of the attack, where they came under heavy fire and suffered severe casualties.

The Marines were in the heart of the action throughout the day-long battle. At the city wall the enemy fire was fierce. The sun was cruel. Cartridges ran low; water became scarce. A bullet stuck Captain Austin R. Davis in the chest, killing him. Captain Ben H. Fuller, who had arrived at Tientsin only the night before, commanded F Company, an artillery unit that silenced a Chinese gun with its three rapid-fire guns and three Colt automatic guns.(These were the early machine guns that fired 6mm ammunition) A Mauser bullet went right through Fuller’s hat. Eighteen-year old 1st Lieutenant Butler, who had had a hugh Marine Corps emblem tattooed on his chest  at Cavite, was hit in the right thigh while carrying mortally wounded Private Partridge from the field–the young Lieutenant, who had been commissioned at sixteen after lying about his age, would be promoted to Captain before his nineteenth birthday. 1st Lieutenant Henry Leonard brought Butler to safety. Leonard and Sergeant Clarence E. Sutton also saved 1st Lieutenant S. D. Hill, who was badly wounded. Leonard himself was later wounded in the left arm and was rescued by Sergeant J. M. Adams and Corporal H. C. Adriance. Leonard’s arm had to be amputated. (Many years later, when Butler was court-martialed at the end of his career, after earning two Medals of Honor, Henry Leonard, then a civilian lawyer would defend him.) The Americans, with five Marines dead and 11 wounded were finally pinned down and withdrew after dark.

At 3 A.M. on July 14th, the Japanese blew up the South Gate; and there was a rush through the hole. By sunup, Tientsin was taken. Foreign flags flew from its walls and foreign soldiers looted the city. Meade was breveted a Brigadier General.

The allies built up their forces at Tientsin to fight through to Peking. But their international army was wracked by imperialistic rivalries that delayed their setting out.

The Americans were reinforced by another Marine battalion, the Fourteenth Infantry and a battery of light artillery. Their force, now totaling more than 2,000 men, was commanded by Major General Adna R. Chaffee, United States Army, a veteran of the Indian wars.

Major William P. Biddle took over from Meade, who was invalided home. The Marine regiment now had 29 officers and 453 enlisted men. Waller commanded the first battalion of Marines, Captain Franklin J. Moses, the second battalion, and Fuller, F Company of artillery.

At dawn on August 4th, the first units of the International Relief Force, about 17,000 strong (figures disagree), marched out of Tientsin for Peking. Lieutenant Wirt McCreary, U.S.M.C., was put in charge of 30 junks carrying American’s supplies. Out of an old blue flannel shirt he created and admiral’s flag, which gave him the right of way on the river.  The Marines hiked near the rear of the column, missing most of the action and excitement, trudging on hour after hour in the heat and dust. The men cursed.

They followed the river, fought a couple of skirmishes and reached Yangtsun, 25 miles on their way, in 36 hours. There, the Americans and British led an attack. 1st Lieutenant Frederic M. Wise (Navy Commanders Wise’s son) in Dunlap’s Company wrote years later: “Word came back that we were to drive a heavy force of Chinese out of some earthworks far over to our right. We stood there mouths and throats gritty with dust; without a drop of water in our canteens and no chance to get any. Then when it seemed we had stood there for hours that afternoon, the orders came to deploy to our right and attack.

The plain in front of us was a furnace. Dust rose in thick clouds. There was no air to breathe. That heavy heat and dust left us choking. As we started forward there was a crash of sound at our rear. Our own artillery, firing over our heads, was covering our advance. We advanced a thousand yards. Down on us, every step of the way beat the blazing sun, heavier every second. Another thousand yards, my men began to stagger again. They were taut and game, but all in. Here one turned ghastly white, there one dropped dead from heat. More and more men were staggering.

Now we were close to it, behind the earthworks the Chinese were milling. We went on, we cloud see them begin to break….then we were on the earthworks, over them, behind them. They were empty. The Chinese, every man for himself were vanishing rapidly amid the tombs in the dust of the endless plain. Men and officers collapsed in the shadow of those earthworks, we couldn’t have made another hundred yards to save our lives.”

The battle and the intense heat cost the Marines two wounded in action and two dead of heat prostration.

After resting at Yangtsun, the Americans, British, Japanese and Russian detachments, some 14,000 men, set out again at dawn on the 8th. The march was grueling in the heat of the ten foot high grain. Smedley Butler wrote: “Nearly fifty percent of our men fell behind during the way, overcome by the sun. In the cool of the night they would catch up us and start on again next morning.”

The bond of friendship between the American Marines and the Royal Welch Fusiliers-begun on the walls of Tientsin- was welded during the ordeal of the march. Years later, the First Marine Battalion asked John Philip Sousa to write a march to honor its British comrades in China. The Royal Welch Fusiliers was first played at the Gridiron Club dinner in Washington on April 26th, 1930; present was President Hoover, who had been at Tientsin.

The situation in Peking had grown more and more desperate. The legations were under perpetual attack. The last of the ponies had been eaten; trees were stripped of bark and stray dogs killed for food. The small children of the Chinese converts were dying, (Ironically, there was a superabundance of champagne, which had been stocked in two stores in the enclave.)

The Chinese armies were now in disarray, fleeing before the invading relief force. Several Chinese commanders committed suicide. On August 12th, the allies took Tungchow, a rich, walled city 14 miles from Peking, and looted it. When reconnaissance found no resistance between Tungchow and Peking, the Russians’ general suggested that the expedition rest three miles from the capital and then launch a coordinated attack at dawn on the fifteenth.

As the relief force approached, the Chinese in Peking tried to overwhelm the legations’ defenders. The fighting reached a climax. The Chinese brought up a new 2-inch Krupp gun that did great damage before it was put out of action by the defenders’ two machine guns.

The relief force planned to advance in four parallel columns against Peking’s eastern wall. But the Russians jumped off at midnight on the 13th and captured Tung Pien Gate (the Americans designated objective) before sunrise. The other nations forces moved up. The Americans, including two companies of Marines, scaled the wall south of the Tung Pien to stop sniping and relieve the pressure on the Russians, who cloud not advance beyond the gate. First Lieutenant Butler was wounded in the chest but saved by a button on his blouse; and two privates were hit. Private Dan Daly earned his first Medal of Honor.

The British Indian troops advanced most quickly without opposition and were signaled by semaphore to enter the legation Quarter through the Water Gate, a giant seven foot sewer tunnel. Inside the enclave, Myer’s Marines cleared obstructions for them. American Marines and Russian sailors on the wall above rushed the Chinese, routed them and raised the flag over the city gate. The British emerged emerged into Canal Street at 2:30 P.M.; the thirsty soldiers were greeted with bottles of champagne. Major General Chaffee reached the legations two hours later. The siege was over. In the Quarter, 66 foreigners were dead, 150 wounded.

At 7 A.M. the next day, Chaffee ordered an assault on the Imperial City in the centre of the Tartar City. Marines led one of the attacking columns. But Chaffee called off the attack just short of the inner city at the insistence of the Russians and the French. Fifteen men died in this meaningless fight. The Empress Dowager and her court had fled; the allies drove out the Chinese troops and plundered the city.

In August, the British landed at Shanghai; the Russians extended their hold on Manchuria, and Japanese marines landed at Amoy opposite Formosa. The intense competition for the potentially rich Chinese market went on. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 brought Japan to new and fateful power in East Asia. But the United States returned its attention and manpower to its most festering problem; the Philippine Insurrection.

The Marines remained in Peking until September 28th; on October 11th, they sailed back to the Philippines. An unusually large number of enlisted Marines–33–was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in China. Captain Hall had a less happy fate; it took a Court of Inquiry to clear his name of charges of cowardice for abandoning the barricades on June 28th. The Court at Cavite declared it “an error of judgement.”

Of the small detachment in Peking, seven Marines had been killed (six of them on the wall) and ten wounded. The seven were buried near the chapel of the Russian Legation; later, their bodies were sent home. And the United States was now entangled in Asian rivalries that would enmesh all Americans in the generations ahead.

Far to the south, the Marine detachment from the U.S.S. Philadelphia fought on the Samoa Islands. The cruiser’s landing party of Marines and sailors went ashore near Apia on April 1st, 1899, with a British force to intervene in a tribal war. The 20 Marines were Commanded by 1st Lieutenant Constantine M. Perkins. As the 62 British Marines and sailors and 56 Americans moved inland, natives attacked their flank and rear. Four U.S. Marines made a stand when the party began to retreat. Four Americans were killed,  and five, including Marine Private Henry L. Hulbert, were wounded. English born Hulbert, Sergeant Bruno A. Forsterer and Sergeant Michael J. McNally received the Medal of Honor for covering the retreat. During World War I, Hulbert would earn a Navy Cross at Belleau Wood and die in action at Blanc Mont at the age of fifty-one.


SOURCE: U.S. Marine Corps Story; BY: J. Robert Moskin
CONTRIBUTOR: Cade Pommeraan


New Features Coming to Your Daily Commentary Gazette

The Daily Commentary Gazette would like to announce some new features coming to its pages. If you haven’t already noticed we have added three new categories for your reading enjoyment, they are:

Quote of the Day

This Day In History

Daily Horoscopes (just released today)

We are in the process of adding a Daily Crossword Puzzle to the Gazette also. You should be able to view it Monday if not sooner. All these new features will eventually be added under the category, “Daily Features.”

The reason we are adding these new changes is that we want you to think of the Commentary Gazette as your online newspaper. You not only get discussions on current affairs, a look back in history and commentary on some of today’s hottest and sometimes controversial topics. With these added new additions and more in the works to come, we want you to come to the Commentary Gazette and view it not only as a website but also your daily source for news and the classics you would find in your newspaper that you get delivered to your home each day.

We hope you enjoy the changes we are making and most of all we hope you continue to visit our online gazette each and every day because the best is yet to come.

Thank you,

The Commentary Gazette Staff

Daily Horoscopes for Friday, October 26


With the Sun in alignment with retrograde Venus, dear Aries, you might receive further information about a past relationship that can be eye-opening and help with closure. Even if things get nowhere or seem to go backward, it’s a necessary process for illuminating where you stand and what you will take forward with you into the future. A bit of detachment can help you. While you may have been feeling somewhat in the dark about your feelings until now, new awareness and possibly the beginnings of a plan of action is likely to emerge going forward with this new beginning. Intimate relationships can benefit from a fresh start or vision as you have recently redefined what you want and need from others, as well as what you expect from yourself! Today is also fantastic for applying yourself to an exciting project or work-in-progress and making satisfying progress.


With the Sun and retrograde Venus aligning today, dear Taurus, it’s a time for getting closer to your true feelings about a relationship. Learning new things about a previous relationship can figure strongly. You might open your eyes to something now, as you’re now truly ready to “see” it.  Through these revelations, you can gain further insight into an old problem, or you might reconnect with someone from your past which sparks a new approach. Set intentions and goals that better reflect your redefined wants and needs, as well as your expectations of others with this new-beginning energy that’s strong for a fresh start or turning point. The focus should be on strategy and plans of action rather than quick maneuvers for best results.


This is a fine time for looking back at old jobs, projects, and even co-workers for insight into current issues, dear Gemini. With the Sun in alignment with retrograde Venus today, you’re likely to learn new things about old problems, mainly related to work, health, and relationships. Events or epiphanies occurring now can lead to an attitude change that sets you on a new and improved path. Seeing where you may have been tripping up or chasing the wrong things in the past can be part of this. Brand new beginnings in the material world should probably wait, but that doesn’t mean you can’t begin anew on an emotional level. Resolutions to change unproductive or unsatisfying patterns might be made now with new-beginning energy and your unique vision.


The Sun shines its light on your past today, dear Cancer, particularly relating to romantic relationships or opportunities gone by, and you can feel especially motivated to make things better. While dwelling on the past is not productive, it can be helpful right now to review past attitudes, events, and feelings. With new insight into past relationships, you’re going forward with a new set of expectations and redefined needs. You’ll be reorienting yourself on an improved course, emotionally speaking. Seeing matters with new eyes makes it so much easier to seek out those people and things that truly fit your life as it stands now for your evolved –and evolving– self. This is an excellent time to reevaluate critical areas of your life, mainly related to creativity, hobbies, romance, and friendship, in terms of whether or not they genuinely fulfill you. Some of you can reconnect with an old love or friend, or you may be learning something new about a previous relationship.


Venus continues its retrograde period until November 16th, dear Leo, and is now midway in this cycle, uniting with the Sun today. You’re redefining and refining what you find valuable and worth your while now. It’s a fine time for looking at something from an entirely different perspective, particularly related to family relationships and projects or studies. Especially with insights gained now, you’ll be in a better position to understand your needs and values. Reconnecting ties with people you love may prove particularly satisfying now. It’s an excellent time for discovering information that was previously hidden or overlooked. Sound energy is with you for working on problems with family or in the home, or for resolving to make improvements. In many ways, you’re wiping the slate clean and ready to begin anew.


There can be a strong focus today on matters of the heart, dear Virgo, more from an analytic perspective than an emotional one. You’re seeing past relationships and expectations in a different light and redefining what it is you now want and need from your connections. You can learn something new that gives you a little more clarity on a matter that has confused or haunted you. Further information can surface that shines a light on a past issue, or there can be a connection made with someone from your past. Either way, you can feel as if you’re starting fresh. It’s a strong time for resolving to put negative attitudes behind you and going forward pursuing your real heart’s desires. There can be a chance to redo a significant project or to return to a project or research that once seemed to be a lost cause. Or, you might now recognize a line of study, personal interest, or another calling that’s a better fit for you.


With the Sun and Venus aligning in your solar second house today, dear Libra, you might get a second chance or look at a project, purchase, or relationship in a new way. The insight you gain now helps you begin anew and clears the slate for newly defined goals. You might find it easier than usual to let go of personal possessions or other attachments that are cluttering your life, both literally and figuratively speaking. Desires can be illuminated now, and they can surprise you! Some level of detachment can help you understand what you truly value and need, and with this new information, you’re setting out on a new path. This is also a potentially powerful day for dedication to work and home matters.


As the Sun aligns with retrograde Venus in your sign today, dear Scorpio, it’s a powerful time for setting up new goals, intentions, and resolutions, particularly related to matters of the heart, pleasure, and satisfaction. You’ve been looking at yourself, your relationships, and your experiences in a new light, and this new perception affects your path going forward. You may be redefining what you want and need from your relationships. You have considerably more impact than usual regarding charm, personal manner, and appeal right now, even if you’re a little aloof or distant on an emotional level. At the same time, there can be a focus on the past, although it’s not about dwelling or getting stuck there. Instead, it’s about learning from what’s happening in the rearview mirror and making better choices for yourself going forward.


The past illuminates in a meaningful way now with the Sun and retrograde Venus coming together in your solar twelfth house, dear Sagittarius, and the focus may very well be on love and past relating patterns. What happened in the past can be a very tricky area, so tread softly, but consider looking at old matters in new ways. More information could surface about a private issue that will help you make better decisions about the future. You may be a little clearer about which actions to take based on recent revelations. For now, process and digest things rather than finalize – that’s what retrograde Venus is about, and we’re about halfway through. You’re in a wonderful position to start fresh on an emotional level.


There can be a distinct focus on matters of the past, particularly related to old projects and friends and lovers now, dear Capricorn. New information about old issues can come to light, and you might learn something about–or make contact with–someone from your past. There may be a need to cut something out, particularly when it comes to friendship matters or group activities, and possibly also superfluous goals. You are more able to see what is tripping you up, which can lead you to improvements. In the coming weeks, there can be a chance to start fresh in a relationship or to begin a new one, based on revelations you have now. Today also holds excellent energy for pouring your heart into a pet project or personal interest and reaping rewards for so doing.


As the Sun comes into alignment with retrograde Venus now, dear Aquarius, it’s a critical time for reevaluating your projects and goals. You have an exclusive window into the past that helps you make better decisions for the future. Business benefits significantly from using strategy in your planning and looking back or behind you before moving ahead. There can also be a focus on past relationships but with a new perspective – you see things differently. You’ll find that recent revelations can now motivate you to begin fresh, particularly related to business or public image and reputation. You can be redefining your goals and what it is you truly value in positive, helpful ways.


A new perspective can see you redefining some of your beliefs, ideals, goals, and dreams, dear Pisces, as the Sun aligns with retrograde Venus now. You might also more clearly see which approaches or expectations you had in the past that sent you along the wrong path. Through this new light on the past, you can gain significant insight into mysteries from your personal history. It’s a good time to set up new intentions, particularly related to love, passion projects, and interests. There can be a sense of emotional renewal and a fresh start or a new beginning based on current revelations about what you love and value the most. Also today, you’re in excellent shape for connecting with friends. Someone may come through for you now.


Courtesy of Astrology Cafe

This Day In History: President of South Korea Assassinated by His Chief of Intelligence (1979)

Park Chung-hee

Park Chung-hee (Korean pronunciation: [pak̚.t͈ɕʌŋ.ɦi] or [pak̚] [tɕʌŋ.ɦi]; 14 November 1917 – 26 October 1979) was a South Korean dictator and military general who led South Korea from 1961 until his assassination in 1979. Park seized power through the May 16 coup, a military coup d’état that overthrew the Second Republic of South Korea in 1961 and ruled at the head of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction until his election and inauguration as the President of the Third Republic of South Korea in 1963. In 1972, Park declared martial law and recast the constitution into a highly authoritarian document, bringing in the Fourth Republic of South Korea.

After surviving several assassination attempts, including two operations associated with North Korea, Park was assassinated on 26 October 1979 by Kim Jae-gyu, the chief of his own security services.[3] He had led South Korea for 18 years. Jae-gyu, who also fatally shot several others, was executed by hanging one year later in 1980, and Park’s daughter, Park Geun-hye, later served as the 18th President of South Korea from 2013 to 2017.

Park remains a controversial figure in modern South Korean political discourse and among the Korean populace in general; while some see him as a resolute leader who helped sustain the Miracle on the Han River, which reshaped and modernized Korea, others see him as an authoritarian dictator who squashed political opposition and dissent while prioritizing economic growth and contrived social order at the expense of civil liberties.

Early life and education

Park was born on 14 November 1917, in Gumi, North Gyeongsang in Korea under Japanese rule,[4] to parents Park Sung-bin and Bek Nam-eui. He was the youngest of five brothers and two sisters in a poor Yangban family. As a youth, he won admission to a teaching school in Daegu and worked as a teacher in Mungyeong-eup after graduating with a teaching degree, but was reportedly a very mediocre student.[4] Following the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the ambitious Park decided to enter the Changchun Military Academy of the Manchukuo Imperial Army, with help from Imperial Japanese Army Colonel Arikawa (a drill instructor at the teaching school in Daegu who was impressed by Park’s military ambitions). During this time, he adopted the Japanese name Takagi Masao (高木正雄).[5] He graduated top of his class in 1942 (receiving a gold watch from Puyi himself) and was recognized as a talented officer by his Japanese instructors, who recommended him for further studies at the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in Japan.[4]


In Manchukuo

After graduating third in the class of 1944, Park was commissioned as a lieutenant into the Manchukuo Imperial Army, and served during the final stages of World War II as aide-de-camp to a regimental commander. He changed his name again from Takagi Masao to Okamoto Minoru (岡本実) in order to engage in intelligence activities against Korean guerrillas operating in the region. The Japanese used Korean turncoats to suppress Korean armed resistance.[6][7]

Return to Korea

Park returned to Korea after the war and enrolled at the Korea Military Academy. He graduated in the second class of 1946 (one of his classmates was Kim Jae-gyu, his close friend and later assassin) and became an officer in the constabulary army under the United States Army Military Government in South Korea. The newly established South Korean government, under the leadership of Syngman Rhee, arrested Park in November 1948 on charges that he led a communist cell in the Korean constabulary.[4] Park was subsequently sentenced to death by a military court, but his sentence was commuted by Rhee at the urging of several high-ranking Korean military officers.[4] While Park had been a member of the South Korean Workers Party, the allegations concerning his involvement in a military cell were never substantiated.[8] Nevertheless, he was forced out of the army. While working in the Army as an unpaid civilian assistant, he came across the 8th class of the Korea Military Academy (graduated in 1950), among whom was Kim Jong-pil, and this particular class would later serve as the backbone of the May 16 coup. After the Korean War began and with help from Paik Sun-Yup, Park returned to active service as a major in the South Korean Army.[4] He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in September 1950 and to colonel in April 1951. As a colonel, Park was the deputy director of the Army Headquarters Intelligence Bureau in 1952 before switching to artillery and commanded the II and III Artillery Corps during the war.[4][9] By the time the war ended in 1953, Park had risen to become a brigadier general.[4] After the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement, Park was selected for six-months training at Fort Sill in the United States.[9]

After returning to Korea, Park rose rapidly in the military hierarchy. He was the head of the Army’s Artillery School and commanded the 5th and 7th Divisions of the South Korean army before his promotion to major general in 1958.[4] Park was then appointed Chief of Staff of the First Army and made the head of the Korean 1st and 6th District Command, which gave him responsibility for the defense of Seoul.[4] In 1960, Park became commander of the Pusan Logistics Command before becoming Chief of the Operations Staff of the South Korean Army and the deputy commander of the Second Army. As such, he was one of the most powerful and influential figures in the military.[4]

Rise to power

On 25 April 1960, Syngman Rhee, the authoritarian inaugural President of South Korea, was forced out of office and into exile following the April 19 Movement, a student-led uprising. A new democratic government took office on 13 August 1960. However, this was a short-lived period of parliamentary rule in South Korea. Yun Bo-seon was a figurehead president, with the real power vested in Prime Minister Chang Myon. Problems arose immediately because neither man could command loyalty from any majority of the Democratic Party or reach agreement on the composition of the cabinet. Prime Minister Chang attempted to hold the tenuous coalition together by reshuffling cabinet positions three times within five months.

Meanwhile, the new government was caught between an economy that was suffering from a decade of mismanagement and corruption under the Rhee presidency and the students who had instigated Rhee’s ousting. Protesters regularly filled the streets making numerous and wide-ranging demands for political and economic reforms. Law and order could not be maintained because the police, long an instrument of the Rhee government, were demoralized and had been completely discredited by the public. Continued factional wrangling caused the public to turn away from the ruling Democratic Party.

Against this backdrop of social instability and division, Major General Park formed the Military Revolutionary Committee. When he found out that he was going to be retired within the next few months, he sped up the Committee’s plans. It led a military coup on 16 May 1961, which was nominally led by Army Chief of Staff Chang Do-yong after his defection on the day it started. The military takeover rendered powerless the democratically elected government of President Yun, ending the Second Republic.

Initially, a new administration was formed from among those military officers who supported Park. The reformist military Supreme Council for National Reconstruction was nominally led by General Chang. Following Chang’s arrest in July 1961, Park took overall control of the council. The coup was largely welcomed by a general populace exhausted by political chaos. Although Prime Minister Chang and United States Army General Carter Magruder resisted the coup efforts, President Yun sided with the military and persuaded the United States Eighth Army and the commanders of various ROK army units not to interfere with the new government. Soon after the coup, Park was promoted to Lieutenant General.

On 19 June 1961, the military council created the Korean Central Intelligence Agency in order to prevent counter-coups and to suppress all potential enemies, both foreign and domestic. Along with being given investigative powers, the KCIA was also given the authority to arrest and detain anyone suspected of wrongdoing or harboring anti-government sentiments. The KCIA would extend its power to economic and foreign affairs under its first director, retired Brigadier General Kim Jong-pil; a relative of Park and one of the original planners of the coup.

President Yun remained in office, giving the military regime legitimacy. After Yun resigned on 24 March 1962, Lt. General Park, who remained chairman of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, consolidated his power by becoming acting president; he was also promoted to full general. Park agreed to restore civilian rule following pressure from the Kennedy administration.

In 1963, he was elected president in his own right as the candidate of the newly created Democratic Republican Party. He appointed Park Myung-keun, the Vice Leader of the party as the chief of the President’s Office. He narrowly defeated former President Yun, the candidate of the Civil Rule Party, by just over 156,000 votes—a margin of 1.5 percent. Park would be re-elected president in 1967, defeating Yun with somewhat less difficulty.

Leader of South Korea

Foreign policy

In June 1965 Park signed a treaty normalizing relations with Japan, which included payment of reparations and the making of soft-loans from Japan, and led to increased trade and investment between South Korea and Japan. In July 1966 South Korea and the United States signed a Status of Forces Agreement establishing a more equal relationship between the two countries. With its growing economic strength and the security guarantee of the United States, the threat of a conventional invasion from North Korea seemed increasingly remote. Following the escalation of the Vietnam War with the deployment of ground combat troops in March 1965, South Korea sent the Capital Division and the 2nd Marine Brigade to South Vietnam in September 1965, followed by the White Horse Division in September 1966. Throughout the 1960s, Park made speeches in which he blamed the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and the British Empire generally for Japan’s takeover of Korea.[10]

Vietnam War

At the request of the United States, Park sent approximately 320,000 South Korean troops to fight alongside the United States and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War; a commitment second only to that of the United States.[11] The stated reasons for this were to help maintain good relations with the United States, prevent the further advance of communism in East Asia[12] and to enhance the Republic’s international standing. In January 1965, on the day when a bill mandating a major deployment passed the National Assembly (with 106 votes for and 11 against),[13] Park announced that it was “time for South Korea to wean itself from a passive position of receiving help or suffering intervention, and to assume a proactive role of taking responsibility on major international issues.[14]

Although primarily to strengthen the military alliance with the United States, there were also financial incentives for South Korea’s participation in the war. South Korean military personnel were paid by the United States federal government and their salaries were remitted directly to the South Korean government. Park was eager to send South Korean troops to Vietnam and vigorously campaigned to extend the war. In return for troop commitments, South Korea received tens of billions of dollars in grants, loans, subsidies, technology transfers, and preferential markets, all provided by the Johnson and Nixon administrations.[15]

North Korea

Park oversaw transitional changes between the two Koreas from conflict to consolidation. Beginning in October 1964, North Korea increased the infiltration of its intelligence-gatherers and propagandists into the South. More than 30 South Korean soldiers and at least 10 civilians had been killed in clashes with North Korean infiltrators by October 1966.

In October 1966, Park ordered the ROK Army to stage a retaliatory attack without seeking the approval of General Charles Bonesteel. This action, which was in retaliation for ongoing South Korean losses, caused tension between Park’s government and the U.S. command in Korea, which wished to avoid violations of the armistice.

Between 1966 and 1969 the clashes escalated as Park’s armed forces were involved in firefights along the Korean DMZ. The fighting, sometimes referred to as the Second Korean War, was related to a speech given by Kim Il-sung on 5 October 1966 in which the North Korean leader challenged the legitimacy of the 1953 Armistice Agreement. Kim stated that irregular warfare could now succeed in a way conventional warfare could not because the South Korean military was now involved with the ever-growing Vietnam War. He believed Park’s administration could be undermined if armed provocation by North Korea was directed against U.S. troops. This would force America to reconsider its worldwide commitments. Any splits would give the North an opportunity to incite an insurgency in the South against Park.

On 21 January 1968, the 31-man Unit 124 of North Korean People’s Army special forces commandos attempted to assassinate Park and nearly succeeded. They were stopped just 800 metres from the Blue House by a police patrol. A fire fight broke out and all but two of the North Koreans were killed or captured. In response to the assassination attempt, Park organized Unit 684, a group intended to assassinate Kim Il-Sung. It was disbanded in 1971.

Despite the hostility, negotiations were conducted between the North and South regarding reunification. On 4 July 1972 both countries released a joint statement specifying that reunification must be achieved internally with no reliance on external forces or outside interference, that the process must be achieved peacefully without the use of military force, and that all parties must promote national unity as a united people over any differences of ideological and political systems. The United States Department of State was not happy with these proposals and, following Park’s assassination in 1979, they were quietly buried.

On 15 August 1974, Park was delivering a speech in the National Theater in Seoul at the ceremony to celebrate the 29th anniversary of the ending of colonial rule when a man named Mun Se-gwang fired a gun at Park from the front row. The would-be assassin, who was a Japanese-born North Korean sympathizer, missed Park but a stray bullet struck his wife Yuk Young-soo (who died later that day) and others on the stage.[16] Park continued his speech as his dying wife was carried off the stage.[17] Mun was hanged in a Seoul prison four months later. On the first anniversary of his wife’s death, Park wrote in his diary “I felt as though I had lost everything in the world. All things became a burden and I lost my courage and will. A year has passed since then. And during that year I have cried alone in secret too many times to count.”[18]

Economic policy

Park is credited with playing a pivotal role in the development of South Korea’s tiger economy by shifting its focus to export-oriented industrialisation. When he came to power in 1961, South Korea’s per capita income was only US$72.00. North Korea was the greater economic and military power on the peninsula due to the North’s history of heavy industries such as the power and chemical plants, and the large amounts of economic, technical and financial aid it received from other communist bloc countries such as the Soviet Union, East Germany and China. South Korean industry saw remarkable development under Park’s leadership. Government-corporate cooperation on expanding South Korean exports helped lead to the growth of some South Korean companies into today’s giant Korean conglomerates, the chaebols. Park also created economic development agencies:

  • Economic Planning Board (EPB)
  • Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)
  • Ministry of Finance (MoF)[19]

The economic development of South Korea continues at the cost of major sacrifices for the working class: the government does not recognize a minimum wage or weekly leave, imposes periods of free work for its benefit and working days are of a duration of twelve hours. In addition, trade unions and collective labor actions are prohibited.[20]

West Germany

Park’s economic policy was highlighted by South Korea’s relationship with West Germany. Park had an affinity for Germany due to its history of having strong leadership like that of Bismarck and Hitler, and wanted to create ties with West Germany to deal with the problems of increasing population growth and economic hardships and to receive an inflow of foreign capital for domestic development.[21] Upon an agreement in 1961, South Korea sent labor forces to Germany, including more than 8,000 mine workers and 10,000 nurses, which continued until 1977.[22]

Domestic policy

Among Park’s first actions upon assuming control of South Korea in 1961 was to pass strict legislation metrifying the country[23] and banning the use of traditional Korean measurements like the li and pyeong.[24] Despite its strict wording, the law’s enforcement was so spotty as to be considered a failure,[25] with the government abandoning prosecution under its terms by 1970.[24] In the end, South Korea’s traditional units continued until June 2001.

After taking office for his second term in 1967, Park promised that, in accordance with the 1963 Constitution which limited the president to two consecutive terms, he would step down in 1971. However, soon after his 1967 victory, the Democratic Republican-dominated National Assembly successfully pushed through an amendment allowing the incumbent president —himself— to run for three consecutive terms.

In the meantime, Park grew anxious of the shift in US policy towards communism under Richard Nixon’s Guam Doctrine. His entire government depended on anti-communism, and any change of that policy from South Korea’s allies (including the US) threatened the very basis of his rule. Park began to seek options to further cement his hold on the country.

In 1971, Park won another close election against his rival, Kim Dae-jung. He then declared a state of emergency shortly after being sworn in “based on the dangerous realities of the international situation”. In October 1972, Park dissolved the legislature and suspended the 1963 constitution in a self-coup. Work then began on drafting a new constitution. Park had drawn inspiration for his self-coup from Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines, who had orchestrated a similar coup a few weeks earlier.

The so-called Yushin Constitution was approved in a heavily rigged plebiscite in November 1972. Meaning “rejuvenation” or “renewal” (as well as “restoration” in some contexts), scholars see the term’s usage as Park alluding to himself as a self-perpetuating and highly-autocratic leader (an “imperial president”).[26]

The new Yushin constitution was a highly authoritarian document. It transferred the presidential election process to an electoral college, the National Conference for Unification. It also dramatically expanded the president’s powers. Notably, he was given sweeping powers to rule by decree and suspend constitutional freedoms. The presidential term was increased from four to six years, with no limits on re-election. For all intents and purposes, Park’s presidency was now a legal dictatorship. In the elections of 1972 and 1978 he was re-elected unopposed.

In 1975, Park ordered homeless people to be removed from the streets of Seoul. Thousands of people were captured by the police and sent to thirty-six camps. The detainees were then used as free labor by the authorities and subjected to degrading treatment. Many died under torture.[27]

Park abolished the usage of Hanja, or Chinese character, and established Hangul exclusivity in Korean language in the 1960s and 1970s. After “Five-Year Hangul Exclusivity Plan” (한글종양오년계획) is accomplished through legislative and executive means, since 1970, using Hanja becomes illegal in all grades of public school and in military. This leads to stronger national identity and less illiteracy in South Korea. [28]

Final years

Although the growth of the South Korean economy had secured a high level of support for Park’s presidency in the 1960s, that support began to fade after economic growth started slowing in the early 1970s. Many South Koreans were becoming unhappy with his autocratic rule, his security services and the restrictions placed on personal freedoms. While Park had legitimised his administration, using the provisions laid down in the state of emergency laws dating back to the Korean War, he also failed to address the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and the press. Furthermore, the security service, the KCIA, retained broad powers of arrest and detention; many of Park’s opponents were held without trial and frequently tortured.[29] Eventually demonstrations against the Yushin system erupted throughout the country as Park’s unpopularity began to rise.

These demonstrations came to a decisive moment on 16 October 1979, when a student group calling for the end of dictatorship and the Yushin system began at Busan National University.[30] The action, which was part of the “Pu-Ma” struggle (named for the Pusan and Masan areas), soon moved into the streets of the city where students and riot police fought all day. By evening, up to 50,000 people had gathered in front of Busan city hall. Over the next two days several public offices were attacked and around 400 protesters were arrested.[30] On 18 October, Park’s government declared martial law in Busan. On the same day protests spread to Kyungnam University in Masan. Up to 10,000 people, mostly students and workers, joined the demonstrations against Park’s Yushin System. Violence quickly escalated with attacks being launched at police stations and city offices of the ruling party. By night fall a citywide curfew was put into place in Masan.[31]


On 26 October 1979, Park was shot dead by Kim Jae-gyu, the director of the KCIA, after a banquet at a safehouse in Gungjeong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. Kim also killed Park’s chief bodyguard, Cha Ji-Chul. Other KCIA officers then went to other parts of the building shooting dead four more presidential guards. Kim and his group were later arrested by soldiers under South Korea’s Army Chief of Staff. They were tortured and later executed. It’s unclear whether this was a spontaneous act of passion by an individual or part of a pre-arranged attempted coup by the intelligence service. Kim claimed that Park was an obstacle to democracy and that his act was one of patriotism. The investigation’s head, Chun Doo-Hwan, rejected his claims and concluded that Kim acted to preserve his own power.[32]

Park, who was said to be a devout Buddhist,[2] was accorded the first South Korean interfaith state funeral on 3 November in Seoul. He was buried with full military honors at the National Cemetery.[33] Kim Jae-gyu, whose motive for murdering Park remains unclear, was hanged on 24 May 1980.

Personal life

Park was married to Kim Ho-nam (having one daughter with her) and the two later divorced. Afterwards, he married Yuk Young-soo, and the couple had two daughters and one son. Yuk was killed in the assassination attempt against Park in 1974.

Park’s eldest daughter, Park Geun-hye, was elected the chairperson of the conservative Grand National Party in 2004. She was elected as South Korea’s 11th and first female president in 2012 and took office in February 2013. Park Geun-hye’s association to her father’s legacy has served as a double-edged sword. She has previously been labeled as the daughter of a dictator, however she has been quoted as saying “I want to be judged on my own merits.”[34] Her presidency ended in her impeachment in 2016 and removal from office in 2017.[35]


Park led the Miracle on the Han River, a period of rapid economic growth in South Korea, until 1979. However, his authoritarian rule saw numerous human rights abuses.[36] Opinion is thus split regarding his legacy between those who credit Park for his reforms and those who condemn his authoritarian way of ruling the country (especially after 1971). Older generations who spent their adulthood during Park’s rule tend to credit Park for building the economic foundation of the country and protecting the country from North Korea, as well as leading Korea to economic and global prominence. Although Park was listed as one of the top ten “Asians of the Century” by Time magazine in 1999,[37] the newer generations of Koreans and those who fought for democratization tend to believe his authoritarian rule was unjustified, and that he hindered South Korea’s transition to democracy. He is also believed to be one of the main causes of regionalism which is a serious problem in Korea today.[38]

Park Chung-hee remains a controversial figure in South Korea. The eighteen-year Park era is considered to be one of the most, if not the most, controversial topics for the Korean public, politicians, and scholars both at home and abroad.[39] A large number of South Koreans, especially those from Park’s native Yeongnam region, consider Park to be one of the greatest leaders in the country’s history and thus continue to hold Park in high regard in great part due to the industrial and economic growth experienced by South Korea under his regime. Park was accused of having pro-Japanese tendencies by some, but it is widely agreed that Park is responsible for the beginning of a normalized relationship with Japan and today Japan is one of South Korea’s top trading partners, surpassed only by the People’s Republic of China and the United States.[40][41] He is often credited as being one of the major people responsible for bringing economic growth and development to South Korea. Park has been recognized and respected by many South Koreans as his country’s most efficient leader, credited with making South Korea economically what it is today.[42] However, Park is also regarded as a highly repressive dictator who restricted personal freedoms and was isolated from the people.[43] At the very least, his actions put United States and South Korea foreign relations at risk, at least under Carter. Dissolving the constitution to allow him unopposed rule and a third term, blackmail, arresting, jailing and murdering opposition figures are well documented.[44] The new constitution President Park implemented after declaring the state of emergency in 1971, gave him the power to appoint one third of the members of the National Assembly and even outlawed criticism of the constitution and of the president.[45] There were also many economic feats established during Park’s regime, including the Gyeongbu Expressway, POSCO, the famous Five-Year Plans of South Korea, and the New Community Movement.[46]

On 24 October 2007, following an internal inquiry, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) admitted that its precursor, the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), undertook the kidnapping of opposition leader and future President Kim Dae-jung, saying it had at least tacit backing from then-leader Park Chung-hee.[47][48]

Historical rankings

In a 2015 Korean Gallup poll on the greatest president in Korean history, Park topped the chart with an approval rating of 44%.[49]

See also



  1. ^ Han, Yong-sup (2011). “The May Sixteenth Military Coup”. The Park Chung-hee Era: The Transformation of South Korea. Harvard University Press. p. 36. ISBN 9780674058200.
  2. ^ a b Chambers, John H. (2008). Everyone’s History. United States of America: Author Solutions. p. 698. ISBN 978-1436347136.
  3. ^ “BBC News’ “On this day””. BBC News. 26 October 1994. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k “The Encyclopedia of the Cold War: A Political, Social, and Military History: Park Chung Hee (1917–1979)”. American Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  5. ^ 趙, 甲済 (1991). 朴正煕:韓国近代革命家の実像. 亜紀書房. p. 65. ISBN 9784750591193.
  6. ^ John Sullivan, ed. (1987). Two Koreas–one future?: a report. University Press of America. ISBN 0819160490. Takagi Masao was Park’s Japanese name at the Tokyo military academy, but he used the name Okamoto Minoru while serving in Manchuria. This suggests he was involved in intelligence activities against Korean guerrillas operating in the region. The Japanese used Korean turncoats to suppress Korean armed resistance.
  7. ^ 池東,(2002). 韓国大統領列伝:権力者の栄華と転落. Tokyo: 中央公論新社. p. 96. ISBN 4121016505.
  8. ^ Han, Yong-sup (2011). “The May Sixteenth Military Coup”. The Park Chung-hee Era: The Transformation of South Korea. Harvard University Press. p. 36. ISBN 9780674058200.
  9. ^ a b Kim, Byung-Kook; Pyŏng-guk Kim; Ezra F Vogel (2011). The Park Chung Hee Era: the transformation of South Korea. Harvard University Press. pp. 132–43. ISBN 978-0-674-06106-4.
  10. ^ The Committee Office, House of Commons. “Dr. J. E. Hoare, providing written evidence to the British House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs”. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  11. ^ Developmental Dictatorship and the Park Chung-hee Era p. 248 (Homa & Sekey, 2006)
  12. ^ Developmental Dictatorship and the Park Chung-hee Era p. 258 (Homa & Sekey, 2006)
  13. ^ Developmental Dictatorship and the Park Chung-hee Era p. 253 (Homa & Sekey, 2006)
  14. ^ Developmental Dictatorship and the Park Chung-hee Era p. 260 (Homa & Sekey, 2006)
  15. ^ “The Legacies of Korean Participation in the Vietnam War: The Rise of Formal Dictatorship”. American Studies Association. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  16. ^ “Park Chung-hee assassination attempt”. 15 August 1974. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  17. ^ Shaw, Karl (2005) [2004]. Power Mad! [Šílenství mocných] (in Czech). Praha: Metafora. p. 13. ISBN 80-7359-002-6.
  18. ^ Don Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas, 1997, p. 56
  19. ^ “San José State University Department of Economics”. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Hong, Young-sun (2015). Cold War Germany, the Third World, and the Global Humanitarian Regime. Cambridge University Press. p. 260. ISBN 1316241203.
  22. ^ “Korea Focus”. 130 Years of Korean-German Friendship. March 2013.
  23. ^ “Gov’t to Crack Down on Those Referring to Land as ‘Pyeong'”, The Hankyoreh, Seoul: Hankyoreh Media Co, 23 June 2007.
  24. ^ a b Jo, Gye Wen (6 November 2006), “Does Metric System Measure Up?”, in Rakove, Daniel, The Hankyoreh, Seoul: Hankyoreh Media Co.
  25. ^ Hong, Seung-il (7 August 2007), “An Economy Dependent on Exports Needs to Conform to Global Standards”, Korea JoongAng Daily, Seoul.
  26. ^ Kim, B.-K. & Vogel, E. F. (eds.) (2011). The Park Chung Hee Era: The Transformation of South Korea. Harvard University Press. p. 27. However the Yushin Constitution may have merely formalised rather than directly established the “imperial presidency
  27. ^ Tong-Hyung, Kim; Klug, Foster (April 19, 2016). “S. Korea covered up mass abuse, killings of ‘vagrants'”. Associated Press.
  28. ^ Hannas, William C. 1991. Korean Views on Writing Reform. In: Schriftfestschrift: Essays in Honor of John DeFrancis on His Eightieth Birthday. Sino-Platonic Papers #27. p.71 Ed. Victor H. Mair. 85-94. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.
  29. ^ See Korea Week 10 May 1977, p. 2 and C.I. Eugene Kim, ‘Emergency, Development, and Human Rights: South Korea,Asian Survey 18/4 (April 1978): 363–378.
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