Search in

Digital Archive International History Declassified


Jeong Il-gwon

Andrew C. Nahm and James E. Hoare

Jeong played a prominent role in the suppression of the Yeosu-Suncheon Rebellion and reportedly saved Park Chung Hee.


JEONG IL-GWON (1917-1994). A graduate of Japan’s military academy in Manzhouguo (Manchukuo) in 1940, he joined the Japanese army there. After the liberation of Korea, Jeong returned to South Korea, joining the newly established Korean army. He played a prominent role in the suppression of the Yeosu-Suncheon Rebellion. It has been claimed that he saved the life of the then major, and future president, Park Chung Hee, who was accused of communist sympathies at that time.

Jeong rose in rank during the Korean War. After serving as head of the Command and Staff College (1954-1956), he became chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff. Retiring from the army as a lieutenant general in 1975, he served as ambassador to Turkey (1957), France (1959), and the United States (1960-1963). In 1963, he became minister of foreign affairs. Appointed to the premiership in 1964, he served the Third Republic until 1970. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1971 and 1979, and served as acting chairman of the ruling Democratic Republican Party (1972-1979).

With the fall of the Fourth Republic in 1979, Jeong’s political fortune declined, but he remained active during the 1980s as a member of the advisory council of state affairs to President Chun Doo-hwan.

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).