A coup d’état is a type of state treason in which certain forces within the ruling class overthrow the government based on force and illegally seize power. One of the reasons for a coup d’état is that the government does not do its job properly or does not like it. Nowadays, it is very difficult to cause a coup d’état except in developing countries. In the 1960s, Korea could be called a developing country because it was far short of being a developed country. The May 16 military coup d’état in 1961 was led by Army Major General Park Jeong-hee. After the resignation of President Syngman Rhee, the government led by Prime Minister Myang Sang was reshuffled three times in 10 months, and the reason for the
replacement was not corruption or policy failure, but balancing the new and the old factions. At that time, the average tenure of ministers in the Gyeongsang government was two months. As a result, the policy could not run with proper continuity, and the members of the State Council were often replaced by others before they could properly understand their work. There was no way the people would see the ministers changing due to the clash of rice bowls between factions. Moreover, President Yun Bo-seon did not intend to stay only as the symbolic head of state. Although the Constitution states that the President cannot belong to a political party, he represented the interests of the old and New Democratic Party remaining within the Democratic Party. As such, the state management of the 2nd Republic surrounding the ministerial position was not carried out properly, and it acted as a major factor in the success of the 5.16 military coup d’état later.
This coup had a positive effect on the Republic of Korea. President Park Chung-hee made a lot of effort to make the Republic of Korea a developed country. He laid out a five-year economic development plan and showed numerous examples of economic growth such as heavy industry, shipbuilding, and highway construction. During the Park Chung-hee administration, most factories were built and supported by the United States, and the people went abroad to earn foreign currency, such as participating in the Vietnam War or dispatching miners and nurses to West Germany, thereby spurring economic growth. During this period, it caught up with North Korea’s economic growth rate and reversed it, and now it has established itself as one of the top 10 developed countries in the world. The Republic of Korea has developed countless times through President Park Chung-hee’s national economic development plan. Therefore, no matter how dictatorial he was, he changed laws and was re-elected as president, and even though his administration suffered from corruption, he deserves praise and respect in the economic sector.