Fifth Republic of South Korea

Republic of Korea
Flag Coat of arms
Capital Seoul
Languages Korean
Government Republic under a military dictatorship
President Chun Doo-hwan
Historical era Cold War
   Established 3 March 1981
   First democratic elections 16 December 1987
  Sixth Republic established 19 December 1987
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Fourth Republic of South Korea
Sixth Republic of South Korea
Part of a series on the
History of South Korea
USAMGIK 194548
First Republic 194860
 : Korean War 195053
 : Syngman Rhee administration 194860
 : April Revolution 1960
 : Heo Jeong Caretaker Government 1960
Second Republic 196061
 : Jang Myeon Cabinet 196061
 : May 16 coup 1961
Constitutional Vacuum 196163
 : Yoon Bo-seon administration 196162
 : First Junta 196163
Third Republic 196372
 : Park Chung-hee administration 196372
 : Self-coup of Park Chung-hee 1972
Fourth Republic 197281
 : Assassination of Park Chung-hee 1979
 : Coup d'état of December Twelfth 1979
 : Coup d'état of May Seventeenth 1980
 : Gwangju Uprising 1980
 : Second Junta 198081
Fifth Republic 198187
 : Chun Doo-hwan administration 198187
 : June Democratic Uprising 1987
 : Grand Labor Struggle 1987
Sixth Republic 1987present
 : Roh Tae-woo administration 198793
 : Kim Young-sam administration 199398
 : National Moratorium 19972001
 : Kim Dae-jung administration 19982003
 : Roh Moo-hyun administration 20032008
 : Lee Myung-bak administration 20082013
 : Park Geun-hye administration 2013present
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The Fifth Republic of South Korea was the government of South Korea from 1979 to 1987, replacing the Fourth Republic of South Korea. Throughout this period, the government was controlled by Chun Doo-hwan, a military colleague of the assassinated president Park Chung-hee. This period saw extensive efforts at reform. It laid the foundations for the relatively stable democratic system of the subsequent Sixth Republic in 1987.


After the assassination of Park by Kim Jae-kyu in 1979, a vocal civil society emerged that led to strong protests against authoritarian rule. Composed primarily of university students and labor unions, protests reached a climax after Major General Chun Doo-hwan's 1979 Coup d'état of December Twelfth and declaration of martial law on May 17. The expanded martial law closed universities, banned political activities and further curtailed the press. The event of May 17 means the beginning of another military dictatorship.

On May 18, 1980, a confrontation broke out in the city of Gwangju between civilians and armed forces, with the military forces winning out nine days later on May 27. Immediate estimates of the civilian death toll ranged from a few dozen to 2000, with a later full investigation by the civilian government finding 606 deaths (see: Gwangju Massacre).

On May 17, Chun Doo-hwan forced the Cabinet to expand martial law to the whole nation, which had previously not applied to Jeju-do. The expanded martial law closed universities, banned political activities and further curtailed the press. Chun assumed the presidency by the event of May 17, triggering nationwide protests demanding democracy, in particular in the city of Gwangju, where Chun sent special forces to violently suppress the Gwangju Democratization Movement. Chun subsequently created the National Defense Emergency Policy Committee and took the presidency according to his political plan. Public outrage over the killings consolidated nationwide support for democracy, paving the road for the first democratic elections in 1987.

See also

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