12 December 1979

Coup d’état of December Twelfth occurs in South Korea.

The 1979 Coup d’état of December Twelfth, also known as the Coup on December 12 or the December 12th Incident, was a pivotal event in the political history of South Korea. The coup took place on December 12, 1979, and it marked a turning point in the country’s path toward democratization.

At the time, South Korea was under the rule of President Park Chung-hee, who had been in power since a military coup in 1961. Park’s regime was characterized by authoritarian rule and economic development policies, often at the expense of political freedoms.

On October 26, 1979, President Park Chung-hee was assassinated by the director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), Kim Jae-kyu. Following Park’s assassination, Major General Chun Doo-hwan, the head of the Defense Security Command, took control of the military and declared martial law on December 12, 1979. Chun and his loyalists used the military to suppress political opposition and consolidate power.

The coup was met with widespread protests from citizens demanding democracy and an end to military rule. In the city of Gwangju, citizens rose up against the military government in May 1980, leading to the Gwangju Uprising. The government responded with brutal force, resulting in numerous casualties and further galvanizing the pro-democracy movement.

In 1980, Chun Doo-hwan officially assumed the presidency after the military junta chose him as the new leader. However, it took several more years before South Korea transitioned to a more democratic system. Pro-democracy movements continued to gain momentum, and in 1987, mass protests led to the end of military rule, paving the way for free and fair presidential elections in 1988.

The events surrounding the 1979 Coup d’état of December Twelfth and its aftermath played a crucial role in shaping the political landscape of South Korea and ultimately contributed to the establishment of a more democratic and civilian-led government.