Park's coup brought an end to the interim government of the Second Republic and his election and inauguration in 1963 ushered in the Third Republic. Seeking to bring South Korea into the developed world, Park began a series of economic policies that brought rapid economic growth and industrialization to the nation that eventually became known as the Miracle on the Han River. South Korea became one of the fastest growing nations during the 60s and 70s as a result.
Although popular during the 60s by the 70s as growth began to slow Park's popularity started wane resulting in a close victory during the 1971 South Korean presidential election. Following this in 1972, Park declared martial law and amended the constitution into a highly authoritarian document called the Yushin Constitution. Formally, the pretense was that the Yushin Constitution was the seventh Constitutional amendment. In actuality, its effect was tantamount to an abolishment of the former Constitution -- effectively creating a new one in an effort to legitimize the new Fourth Republic. During this time political opposition and dissent was constantly repressed and Park had complete control of the Media and Military.
Park survived several previous attempts to kill him, including two operations associated with North Korea. Following the student uprising later known as the Bu-Ma Democratic Protests, Park was assassinated on 26 October 1979 by his close friend Kim Jae-gyu, the director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, at a safe house in Seoul. Cha Ji-chul, chief of the Presidential Security Service, was also fatally shot by Kim. Kim and his many accomplices were captured, tortured, tried, convicted and executed as Choi Kyu-hah became Acting President pursuant to the Yushin Constitution's Article 48. Major General Chun Doo-hwan quickly amassed sweeping powers after his Defense Security Command was charged with investigating the assassination, first taking control of the military and the KCIA before installing another military junta and finally assuming the presidency in 1980. Whether the assassination was spontaneous or premeditated is something that remains unclear today -- the motivations of Kim Jae-gyu are still debated.
Economic growth continued after Park's death and the country eventually democratized. Later presidents included people arrested under Park's regime. Park has been ranked by the public as the greatest South Korean president but he still remains a controversial figure in modern South Korean political discourse and among the South Korean populace in general for his dictatorship and undemocratic ways. While some credit him for sustaining the Miracle on the Han River, which reshaped and modernized South Korea, others criticize his authoritarian way of ruling the country (especially after 1971) and for prioritizing economic growth and contrived social order at the expense of civil liberties.
In 2012 the Park Chung-hee Presidential Library and Museum was opened. On 25 February 2013, his eldest daughter, Park Geun-hye, became the first female president of South Korea. She was impeached and removed from office on 10 March 2017 as a result of an influence-peddling scandal. On 6 April 2018, Park's daughter was sentenced to 24 years in prison for corruption.
Park with fellow students at Changchun Military Academy
Park was born on 14 November 1917, in Gumi, North Gyeongsang in Korea under Japanese rule, to parents Park Sung-bin and Bek Nam-eui. He was the youngest of five brothers and two sisters in a poor Yangban family. Extremely intelligent, egotistic and ambitious, Park's hero from his boyhood on was Napoleon, and he frequently expressed much disgust that he had to grow up in the poor and backward countryside of Korea, a place that was not suitable for someone like himself. Those who knew Park as a youth recalled that a recurring theme of his remarks was his wish to "escape" from the Korean countryside. As someone who had grown up under Japanese rule, Park often expressed his admiration for Japan's rapid modernization after the Meiji Restoration of 1867 and for Bushido ("the way of the warrior"), the Japanese warrior code.
As a youth, he won admission to a teaching school in Daegu and worked as a teacher in Mungyeong-eup after graduating in high school, but was reportedly a very mediocre student. Following the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the ambitious Park decided to enter the Changchun Military Academy of the Manchukuo Imperial Army, with help from Imperial Japanese Army Colonel Arikawa (a drill instructor at the teaching school in Daegu who was impressed by Park's military ambitions). During this time, he adopted the Japanese name Takagi Masao (高木正雄). He graduated top of his class in 1942 (receiving a gold watch from the Emperor Puyi himself) and was recognized as a talented officer by his Japanese instructors, who recommended him for further studies at the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in Japan.