• Short Summary

    President Chung-Hee Park proclaimed martial law throughout Korea on Tuesday (17 October) and partially suspended the constitution.

  • Description

    President Chung-Hee Park proclaimed martial law throughout Korea on Tuesday (17 October) and partially suspended the constitution. He dissolved the National Assembly, increased press censorship, and closed all colleges and universities.

    The move came at a time when North and South Korean Red Cross officials were beginning talks aimed eventually at reunification of the country. Proclaiming the measures, General Park - serving his third four-year term as President - said they were 'in order to overcome the historical trials the Republic of (South) Korea faces ... in order to forestall any disturbances or confusion which may arise in the course of carrying out the structural reform necessary for achieving the peaceful unification of the fatherland and the nation, and in order to protect the lives and properties of people.'
    Immediately after the declaration of martial law, tanks and armoured cars moved into the city and took up positions in front of the Presidential mansion and the National Assembly. Army chief of staff, General Jae-Hyun Ro, was appointed martial law commander. Other measures imposes in the eight-point declaration included the suspension of all political party activity and all assemblies and demonstrations except non-political religious functions. The 'spreading of rumours' was prohibited, and so was the 'desertion of places of work for no justifiable reasons.'
    This film, compiled from the Visnews film library, shows President Park reviewing a military parade in Seoul, the South Korean capital, in September 1971. It also covers a National Assembly meeting in July this year (1972), and the accompanying script outlines the current developments and the background to them.

    SYNOPSIS: Martial law was declared in South Korea on Tuesday. President Chung-Hee Park - here reviewing a parade in Seoul last year - also partially suspended the constitution and dissolved the National Assembly. Other measures he announced included the closure of all universities and colleges, and an increase in press censorship. The move, which surprised both Koreans and foreign observers, came as preparations were getting under way for reuniting North South Korea.

    As the country hovered on the verge of unity, the President said he was imposing martial law to forestall any trouble over the merger. (PAUSE - 5 SECONDS) Immediately martial law had been declared, tanks and armoured cars moved into the capital, Seoul, and took up positions in front of the President's mansion and the National Assembly.

    The decree banned all demonstrations, whether indoors or in the open air. Non-political meetings would only be allowed with special permission, through weddings and funerals are exempt from the rule. Among acts which have been declared illegal, are the spreading of rumours and leaving work without so-called justifiable reason.

    But the President has promised that normal economic activities and the freedom of normal daily life were guaranteed. The Army Chief of Staff, General Jae-Hyun Ro, has been appointed as Martial Law Commander, taking over most of the functions of the National Assembly.

    The National Assembly was formed under the constitution of 1963. It has one chamber of two hundred and four members. The Government has survived several periods of unpopularity - notably in 1965 when relations were re-established with Japan - and last May President Park was re-elected to serve a third four-year term.

    The Assembly have been enthusiastic over the plan to re-unite the two Koreans. On Monday talks were to be resumed in the North Korean capital of Pyong Yang. Red Cross officials from each country were to discuss how to bring together families who have been divided by war and ideology for over twenty years. The long-term aim was be recreate Korea as one country.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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