‘Coup Was the Best of the Worst’ says Presidential Hopeful

Park Geun-hye defends her father's decision as unavoidable

From Daum:

Park Geun-hye: ‘5.16 coup d’etat was the best decision in unavoidable circumstances’

Park Geun-hye reiterated her stance regarding the May 16 Coup which she believes was ‘the best decision in an unavoidable situation’ during roundtable discussions hosted by the Korean Newspaper and Broadcasters Association.

When asked about her position on the May 16 Coup and the October Restoration, Park answered that ‘looking back, and given that our nation was the second poorest in the world and the gravity of national security situation being what it was, I believe my father had made the best decision in unavoidable circumstances.’

Park Geun-hye reiterates her father's decision to stage military coup

She further added that ‘with such things as national development and where Korea stands now, May 16 Coup consolidated that foundation,’ and ‘from that perspective, I believe the right decision was made.’ Her previous position was that the May 16 Coup was the decision that saved the nation.

She added that ‘while I believe this to be the case, knowing that there are other opinions and thoughts on this, rather than debating over who is right and wrong, we should let history and our nation be the judge of this.’ She expressed similar opinion over the October Restoration but issued regrets and condolescence for those who suffered in that period.

She also flatly denied the recent criticism that Saenuri has become her ‘private party’ after the motion to apprehend a Saenuri member of the National Assembly was blocked. She insisted that the decision was made as a group on account of the shared concern over the application of justice. On the allegation of foul play involving Park Ji-Man, her younger brother, she defended his innocence ‘because of his insistence of non-involvement, and he was not formally approached by any other judiciary.’

In order to eliminate the corruption invariably involving the relatives and associates of the president, Park called for the creation of the permanent special prosecutors office, which ought to be able to investigate anywhere and everywhere for any misconduct,’ in tandem with the limitation on amnesty so as to stop being exploited.

In answer to the charge of her plan to democratize the Korean economy, which was criticized by the UPP for lacking any substantive proposal for reforming the Chaebol, she countered that rather than dismantling Chaebol ‘we ought to absolutely discourage Chaebols engaging in anti-market activities while encouraging their competitiveness, in contrast to the UPP’s proposal which is costly and ineffective.’

Ms. Park remained firm on her stance regarding the privatization of Incheon International Airport and selling off of Woori Bank should to be dealt by the next administration which may run the risk of being badly managed at the end of the current administration.

Comments from Daum:두딸아빠:

Put it simply, 5.16 is a crime. The economic development you speak of is perhaps a mitigating circumstance.

이카루스:

You can’t say these things unless you are actually crazy. So then Chun Doo-hwan massacring people in Gwangju, the Japanese annexation, and Lee Wan-Yong‘s treachery are all unavoidable decisions as well? She would sell out our nation in order to grow the economy. You chicken-headed moron.

하원:

If you know history correctly, speak forth. A couple of ex-presidents who suffered under President Park did so. Still more than 50% of the nation think of Park as the best presidents we have ever had and what we can enjoy now is all thanks to him. For few he may have been dictatorial but for the 90% of the population he was the greatest president.

humblebee:

Sure thing, Chun Doo-hwan was the best choice and Hitler made the best choice. That’s who they were… Following the righteous way is not an option right? We do not want a president who thinks the coup was the justifiable and the best choice in the worst situation.

햇빛마을:

For those who can afford to eat meals 3 times a day yet badmouth him your mouths should be set on fire, you fucking ingrates.

당당:

Denying the very foundation of our democratic republic, this is one helluva presidential candidate. Saenuri should dissolve itself for putting forward this crazy bitch as their candidate! Your party is anti-constitutional!

백야271:

Learn to be ashamed in front of history…. You crazy bitch.

하이:

Here’s an idea… Get elected and then get your ass thrown off by coup….. see if you can say the same thing

테넌바움:

Geun-hye, listen well! Coup was unavoidable? Defending the constitution is the responsibility of the president…. isn’t that in your notepad?

xnfmrpspvm:

So when the situation is right they can do it again. That must be a good opportunity for them.

김영일:

How is this any different from Japan claiming the annexation as unavoidable??? They go batshit crazy over the dictatorship in North Korea and yet they try to paper over their own dictatorship… how is this any different from North Korea?

크로아상:

Kim Jaegyu killing Park Chung-hee was an unavoidable decision for the future of ROK. Thanks to that we can enjoy what we have now.

데오기획:

Only shit in this bitch’s head or something?

africanus:

ke ke ke, so when things get tough, we can just try coup??? And that decision is based on purely personal criterion… this is why we call it shit awareness of history.

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  • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

    Light and shade of turbulent era: critical understandibg of Park Chung-hee

    No one appears to be more polarizing than Park Chung-hee in Korean history. He was a dictator and architect of national revival. To be fair, it is necessary to figure out what is his achievement and what is failure.

    Proponents: national revitalization be credited to Park

    Supporters claim in the wake of the 1950-53 fratricidal war, a fragil chatic democracy that failed to lift the nation out of abject poverty inevitably led to Park’s rise to power in the May 16 coup.

    Mr. Park laid foundations for national rapid development with efficiency made possible by monopolizing power. Given the incompetence of previous provisional regime of Jang Myeon and formidable military tension with North Korea, Park marshalled power and brought order to the nation which would otherwise have went to tailspin.

    True, his long range plans for economic growth and their audacious implementation should derserve credit, say advocates. They went on it is unprecedented feat

  • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

    when compared with incompetence and corruption found in most dictatorships of Third-World countries.

  • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

    Crticis say Mr. Park brought the nation backward.

    opponents say his economic programs were already prepared by his predecessor, citing similarity of two plans. Not only that, his development strategy brought imbalanced growth with preferential treatment of some firms, providing the basis for today’s chaebol system.

    On the national security, he occasionally heightened military tension with the North by consolidating his frip on power, especially when election seasons came, thus entrenching the coldvwar system on the Korean Peninsula.

    Regarding national unity, the dictator formented national division intentionally or unknowingly by giving development projects favorably to certain regions and appointing figures from certain provinces as key governmental posts. This caused what is called regional feud in Korea- -a severe impediment to working democracy.

    Lastly, the national economic renewal supporters boast was bought at the immense expense of cruel exploitation of laborers for cheap exports.

    He was only successful in setting a precedent about how to stage a coup–the role model his two successors bent on following.

  • 바나나

    she looks like the ajumma that sells milk near the place i work at

  • Hm… what is the old adage, those that fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it? It is going to be interesting to see how she will ‘demand a recount’ if she loses the election.

  • noori

    What I find fascinating is that her most avid supporters are the very people who’d been through her father’s regime.

  • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

    Those who are fervent advocates of Mr. Park and his oldest daughter are mostly ones who benefited directly or indirectly from economic growth during the dictatorship.

    Many middle-income people have an ill-conceived illusion about economic achievments that die-hard conservatives claim were made possible by his alleged extraoridinarily charismatic leadship.

    This myth is being incessantly fed by conservative media which steer their spotlight away from dark aspect like suppression of labor working class into economic growth.

    Looking at economic growth during Mr. Park’s rule from a bigger picture, it was possible because the United States opened its market to cheap and light-industry goods and provided assisstance to the poverty-stricken country as part of its effort to make South Korea a solid bastion against communist expansion.

    (Intereatingly, as Washington bogged down into the Vietnam war, which turned out to be a enormous drain on its political, financial resources, the White House tried to shift the burden of economic assisstance to Seoul onto Japan. As it turned out, Washington’s ingenious brainchild was to pressure Tokyo to settle old scores with Seoul. The postwar Japan hastily signed a compensation pact with Seoul under Mr. Park which needed “seed money” for economic programs and bought acquittal for its wartime atrocities from the illegitimate Mr. Park’s regime.

    Thus, the argument that Mr. Park laid groundwork for economic development has refutable aspects.

    • Chucky3176

      I don’t think there isn’t a subject in South Korea that is most polarizing than the subject of Park Chung Hee. The Korean who lived through his rule, admire him and respect him as one of the greatest leaders in Korean history. The young Koreans who grew up well after his legacy, dismiss him has a brutal dictator.

      I’m going to balance out the netizen comments with what Park did right, when all the intellectuals, protesting students, and dissidents at that time, vehemently opposed.

      1) Park made education reforms that resulted in the universal education, instead of the few rich elites competing in entrance exams for few elite schools. Park’s reforms brought 99% literacy rate in a country where the literacy rate was not even 50% in 1960. The reforms of public school education into universal education, was directly opposed by Confucian intellectuals and college administrators and teachers who protested severely.

      2) Park normalized relationship with Japan in 1965, in return getting a shitload of money back in loans and grants from Japan. Park used that money to build Korea’s infrastructure which was the base for the rise of the Korean economy. South Korea went up in violent protests all over the country that year, as students and intellectuals demonstrated this decision.

      3) With the money Park received, he built the Seoul-Pusan highway (South Korea’s first ever highway) which revolutionized the way transportation worked in South Korea. The plan from the beginning was opposed by the students and intellectuals who opposed the fact that it was Japanese money ill-gotten from a treaty with Japan that they’ve opposed from the beginning. The intellectuals pointed out that building a highway was an unneeded excess dreamt up by a meglomaniac, a total waste of money when there’s hardly any traffic.

      4) With the Americans involved in the war in Vietnam, Park sent 350,000 troops (from 1964 to 1973) to help the Americans and fight in the war. Once again, students and intellectuals went up in violent protests over this, as they were against sending of Korean troops to foreign countries to die. Five thousand Korean troops died in that war, and ten thousand more were wounded. In return for the sacrifices of these soldiers, America handed out over $7 billion in economic and military aid to South Korea, which at that time was a sizable amount of money. Korea’s involvement also meant America gave subcontracts worth billions more, to Korean companies involved in civilian and military contracts in Vietnam. The South Korean military war performance was much admired by Americans, so much so that it gave valuable experience and confidence to a South Korean military which was a rag tag army only about a decade and a half earlier. The whole nation rallied around the pride of the military, which transferred to the economy, fueling a new found confidence that South Korea can achieve even miracles if they put their minds to them. The Vietnam War fueled South Korea’s nationalism, a new pride in the nation, when before, the whole country lived in apathy, poverty, and defeatism.

      5) With the Vietnam War fueling South Korea’s economy, Park decided to steer South Korea to the heavy industries like steel, auto, petrochemicals, and ship making. Because South Korea lacked capital, he borrowed from the World Bank and directed the loan to a few favored corporations (known as the Chaebol) in an attempt to use the precious capital most efficiently as possible. The World Bank opposed Park’s economic plans, citing it as a doomed plan from the beginning when Korea had no technology or expertise. They instead advised South Korea to nurture light industries like textile and shoe making. The intellectuals and political opposition lead by Kim Dae Jung, also condemned Park’s favoring of the Chaebol as favoritism for the few rich, and vigorously opposed Park’s five year economic plannings (which by the way inspired and has been adopted by China).

      Summary

      We can debate about what could have been if Park Chung Hee didn’t come to power. South Korea could have (or not) been a democracy back in the 1960’s, that is debatable. But what is clear is that without Park’s leadership, these things would not have come to fruit due to the fact that those who advocated democracy, directly opposed them.

      1) No universal education for the masses.
      2) No diplomatic relations with Japan, nor $700 dollars in loans and grants.
      3) No highway from Seoul to Pusan, and no transportation revolution.
      4) No participation in Vietnam War, therefore no massive American aid, and no take off of Korean industries and economy.
      5) No POSCO, no Hyundai, no Daewoo, no ship building, no steel nor auto industries.

      The question is, what would have Korea looked like today? Would it have been worse or better? Would there have been a full fledged democracy? Would the country be as economically successful? Those are the questions that Koreans should be debating today.

      • Yu Bumsuk

        Very well summed up, Chucky. People can talk woulda, coulda, shoulda all they want, but at the end of the day what counts is what he actually achieved, and I can think of no one else who could have done what he did.

        • Chucky3176

          The point is, it was the dissidents, student activists, and intellectuals who vehemently opposed what much of Park Chung Hee rammed through. If South Korea had been in charge by the democracy advocates of that era, the South Korea of today would very much be a different country. The bold moves that Park did, going against the wishes of the majority, the democracy advocates, and even the World Bank, was extraordinary in that nobody thought South Korea would succeed with the Park Chung Hee reforms and policies, and that South Korea will fail into a despotic state. As it turns out, they were dead wrong!

  • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

    In the rebuttal of Mr. Park’s achievements.

    (1) “Abnormalization” of relations with Tokyo

    Mr. Park sealed a deal with Japan to get money for his economic programs which, if successful, would give legitimacy to the dictatorship.

    As mentioned in my above articles, Tokyo consider the timing of the deal to be the best in that a democratic Korea is more intractible to deal with. Washington’s pressure, aimed at relieving its economic burden for South Korea by laying it onto Japan was also a crucial consideration.

    In addition, many intellectuals think that $3 billion in free assisstance and $4 billion in loans giveb to Seoul are absurdly small comparing cases of countries who have tormenting experiences of colonization. Japan knew that Mr. Park was anxious to sign a deal because his regime would crumble without a visibly boastful economic growth, the only thing that could justify his illegitimacy.

    But, most importantly, Mr. Park ultimately created a breeding ground for persistant standoff between in Seoul and Tokyo. The point is simple: he discounted Korea’s dignity by considering reconciliation with Japan only to a matetial compensation and by not asking Japan to make sincere apologies for what it caused tremendous sufferings for Korea. Worse still, the money received mostly went into the hands of a select few during his economic programs. The pro indepdence activists and comfort women, a euphemistic terms for conscripted Korean women as sex slaves for Japan soldiers during the second world war were giveb cold shoulder, much less wholehearted apologies from Tokyo.

    This abnormalization of relations with Japan- – the outcome of Mr. Park domestic imperative for economic development and Japan’s opportunistic attempt to resovle its colonial vestige with a few bucks–has been a nasty source of Seoul’s persistent with estrangement with Tokyo.

    Mr. Park’s frivolous deal proved to be more disgraceful when the constitutional court said in a landmark ruling that the 1965 basic treaty with Japan cannot absolve the governement of the responsibility of seeking legal redress for the comfort women from Tokyo.

    Many claimed thay now is the time for Seoul to let bygones be bygones for a future-oriented relationship with Japan. But, Mr. Park’s impetuous miscondut is one of the insurmountable hurdles to the road for the time being.

    (2) Dispatch of troops to Vietnam not an economic boon

    Mr. Park’s another desperate bid to gain legitimacy for his ursurped presidency came after he realized that Washington was looking askance to him wondering if he was pro-communist. He intuitively sensed that without Washington’s backing, his regime was a house of cards. This anxiety led to his passionate courtship of Washington by sending troops, the mobilization of whom was so easy given his absolute power.

    Many domestic studies revealed that the deployment brought less of economic benfits than recognition from Washington, which needed international support to domestically justifying continuing its a hopeless uphill battle in Vietnam.

    Furthermore, money in exchange for blood, sweat,and tears of Korean soldiers who had fallen in the Vietnam war went mostly used for, in a cynical view, fostering a few firms on the pretext of economic revitalization. Of course, salaries of the Korean veterans which had been transferred was mandated to stay in bank accounts in a fixed period of time for the “sublime national cause” of economic growth.

    Althogh the yonger generation, me included, does not experience Mr. Park’s era, it is hardly difficult to imagine the agony and resentment which would be felt if you were forcecd to go to the battlefild as a cannon fodder in a faraway nation which scarecely involves vital interests of the sending nation, except for consolidation of ruler’s power by pandering to its powerful ally.

    Many claim that the leadership qualities Mr. Patk demonstrated during the Korea’s turbuent epoc is unrivalled and a crucial element which enabled the nation to attain the miraculous achivement.

    However, by the late 1970s, his economic achievement–began to be eclisped by overlapping overinvestment in the heavy and chemical industries and priviledged firms’ overdependence on the governement–a precursor of incetutous collusion between businessmen and politicians which would led to a rampant moral hazard as one of the origins behind the 1997-1998 cataclysmic financial crisis–and vote-rigging in the presidential election.

    It is true that he boldly impemented a grand design for national revival, in a rare display of patriotric passion and incorruptibilty. But it is necessary to creat a personal cult around Mr. Park by elevating him to a national hero, without whom the nation would waste its immense talented human resources characterized by amazing resilience, eventually remaining in dire poverty with economy staying in doldrums.

    That’s not the case. I can also envisage a South Korea in which more competent small-and medium-sized firms thrive and democracy will blossom with more active citizenry, without inter-regional enmity.

    Mr. Park need to be more objectively assessed.

    • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

      I am sorr for some misspellings in the aricle. As a smartphone user, I sometimes find myself to proofread the article for errors in letters.
      Correction:
      The most critical erros is as follows
      It is necessay “not”to creat a personal cult around Mr. Park.

      Please understand other minor errors which might have no big problems in comprehension.

    • Yu Bumsuk

      “forcecd to go to the battlefild as a cannon fodder in a faraway nation”

      If I’m not mistaken the troops who went to Vietnam volunteered (unlike their American counterparts) and were credited with three years’ military service for one year spent on tour in Vietnam.

      • Chucky3176

        You are correct. They were all volunteers. The ROK military got so many volunteers, they had to weed out the best and send them over. The competition to go over to Vietnam was extremely high. It’s absolutely not true they were forced. You ask any Korean veterans of the Vietnam War, and they will tell you their experience that they went there voluntarily and that they volunteered because they hated Communism and wanted to pay back the freedom they got when the Americans helped them when they were kids.

    • Chucky3176

      Without Park and the Chaebol, there will be no heavy industry in Korea today. No auto, no ship building, no petrochemicals, no steel, no construction companies that are raking in $100 billion a year in Middle East and Asian contracts. And certainly no export economy. What would have been Korea’s alternative other then light industries like textile and assembly of toys, plastics, and cheap souvenirs? I suppose South Korea today could have looked like Thailand, assembling products for Western companies and competing with South East Asia, instead of competing with Japan. By the way, no country in East Asia outside of Japan, was a democracy during the Park era. It’s questionable that if Park Chung Hee wasn’t in power, that the democrats would have been in power.

  • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

    If I turn out to be wrong, it is quite difficult to understand why some of the dispatched troops, comprsing of solidiers patriostically inspired by memories of US help during the Korean war and voluntart enlisted men, committed war crimes like rapes etc.

    • Chucky3176

      Because they were the exception, not the rule. Most ROK veterans of the Vietnam War served honorably.

      • Yu Bumsuk

        Korean, American, Australian, ARVN, Viet Cong, and North Vietnamese troops all committed war crimes at some point in the American War. While I strongly disagree with that war it remains that Korean troops acquitted themselves as well as any force involved. Indeed North Vietnam specifically told Viet Cong troops to avoid Korean troops during the Tet Offensive; this was partly for political reasons (a dead American was worth much more politically) but also because they didn’t want to mess with Korean troops if they didn’t have to.

  • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

    No one know for certain what would have happened at that time without military dictators.

    Don’s underestimate grass roots. I am sure that Mr. Park, its military successors and and chaebol would not have been successful if they seized power in other Aisan countries outside South Korean.

    They would have met tragic death amid angry protestors chanting “down dictator!!”, as epitomized in a wave of Arab democratic movements.

    It is unnamed laborers who toiled with no comparable reward(though classical economists have a different view of this opinion) under the iron-fisted rule that deserves more credit for economic growth than a cohort of militarymen did.

    • Chucky3176

      I think most Koreans, our parents, would disagree with you on that regard, that they got no reward out of their toil.

  • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

    Their serive in the Vietnam war itself could be honorable. But for what? Why should ROK send its troops to the war, the cause of which have few foundation except for a domino effect, which proved to be a misconceived idea by Washington, which misjudged any nationlist movements in the Third-World countries as pro- communist or contrary to its vital interests. Mr. Park’s dispatch of troops was motivated by his tantalized aspiration to get the recognition of his office from Washington, with any, if any, economic benefits from deployment having incidental meaning.

    And US intervention in the Korean War emanated from its geopolitical interests, not for the sake of Korean interests.

    In international relations, if borrowing a famous aphorism, there is no pemanent friend and there is no permanent enemy.

    Lastly , the middle-income class here tend toward conservatism. And most learned Korens, in my opinion, would think that sacrifices made by unnamed laborers on the altar of national revitalization has been neglected in the so-called winners’s history records.

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