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Digital Archive International History Declassified

Biographies

Jang Do-yeong

Andrew C. Nahm and James E. Hoare

Jang became chairman of the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC) in 1961, charged for anti-revolutionary plot but pardoned by Park Chung Hee.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

JANG DO-YEONG (1923-2012). Born into a Christian family in a village near Sineuiju, North Pyeong-an Province (now North Korea), he enrolled at Tokyo University in Japan, but his education was interrupted by student mobilization that the Japanese government carried out in January 1944. Drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army, Jang served as an instructor of the Nanjing Officers’ Candidate Training School in China, toward the end of World War II. When the war ended, he returned to his hometown and became a high school teacher. Following an anticommunist uprising by his students in November 1945, he fled to South Korea.

Graduating in 1946 from the Military English School, which was established by the United States Army Military Government in Korea to train Korean officers in the constabulary, the forerunner of the South Korean armed forces, Jang was commissioned as lieutenant. He remained in the military after the Korean armed forces were established in 1948, and during the Korean War, he commanded combat divisions and an army corps.

Jang received further military training at the Command and General Staff College in the United States in 1953, and rising in rank rapidly, Jang became army chief of staff in February 1961. When the military revolution of 16 May 1961 began, he went along with it. Hoping to avoid large-scale bloodshed, believing that many commanders of army divisions were behind the revolution, mindful of the persistent military threats from North Korea, and with the idea of “guiding” the revolutionaries, he accepted the chairmanship of the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC). In late May, the MRC was renamed the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction (SCNR), and as chairman of the SCNR, he served as head (prime minister) of the cabinet until July 1961 when he was charged with an alleged anti-revolutionary plot. Jang was tried and was given a death sentence by a lower military court, later reduced to a life term by a higher military court. The case then went to the highest military court, but, while the case was being reviewed, Jang received a pardon from General Park Chung Hee, who had become chairman of the SCNR, and dismissed the case in May 1962. Shortly thereafter, Jang was allowed to leave Korea and go into exile in the United States.

All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. (Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Korea, by Andrew C. Nahm and James E. Hoare, published by RLPG Books, appears by permission of the author and publisher).