May 16 - 1961 - The May 16 Coup

Often military coup d'etats require the military to forcibly take control of the government with some large measure of violence. When the officers of the South Korean Army organized a coup d'etat in 1961, they were actually able to take power fairly effortlessly. Largely, this was due to the ineffectiveness of the civilian government of the short-lived Second Korean Republican and a desire to see some new leadership in the country. Also, Park Chung-Hee, a general who was in charge of the defense of Seoul, had unified a wide range of officers inside the Korean Army behind his plans for a coup. Taking action after a warning a mutiny had taken place, when most of Korea had woken up on the morning of May 16, 1961, the military had taken over most government buildings and broadcast a message explaining their actions. Rather peaceably, Park and his associates were able to form a new military government. By 1963, Park Chung-Hee would win an election as President of South Korea, a position he would hold until his assassination in 1979.

William Floyd