The Robinson Library

The Robinson Library >> Korea
South Korea in 1961

On May 16 it was announced that a military junta had taken over the government of South Korea. All members of Prime Minister John M. Chang's cabinet were arrested, the National Assembly was dissolved, and further political activity was banned. The apparent leader of the junta and head of the Revolutionary Committee was Lieutenant General Chang Do Young, who was subsequently proclaimed Prime Minister by President Posun Yun. On May 20 the name of the Revolutionary Committee was changed to the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, and on May 27 it was reorganized to give more representation to the young colonels who had organized the coup.

A smuggler of cigarettes resists arrest in Seoul during a crackdown ordered by the new military junta.
crackdown in Seoul

On June 6 the Supreme Council proclaimed a new national reconstruction law giving itself all constitutional powers. Although a number of constitutional guarantees were abolished, the constitution itself was not abrogated. The Supreme Council assumed all executive and legislative powers, replacing the Prime Minister and Assembly, and retained the power to approve all lower-ranking judges, provincial governors, and mayor of larger cities. Membership in the Supreme Council was restricted to military men on active duty who had participated in the junta or who upheld its aims, but room was left for eventual civilian representation. General Chang resigned some of his government positions, but remained as Chairman of the Supreme Council and head of the Cabinet (Prime Minister).

On July 3 an inside coup reconstructed the junta itself. General Chang was replaced as Chairman of the Supreme Council by Major General Pak Chung Hi and as Prime Minister by Defense Minister Song Yo Chan. On July 9 General Chang was taken into custody "for plotting counterrevolutionary activity"; most of his original cabinet had been arrested five days earlier. By November 9 Chang and 23 of his associates had been tried and released.

Major General Pak Chung Hi
Pak Chung Hi

See Also

In the Year 1961

Questions or comments about this page?

The Robinson Library >> Korea

This page was last updated on 01/08/2019.