Here is a collection of how Korea’s political leaders reacted to PGH’s characterization of her father’s coup d’etat that it was an “unavoidable, best possible choice.”

  • Kim Moon-Soo (NFP governor of Gyeonggi-do, presidential candidate, in a radio interview):  “No matter what the circumstance, the president is supposed to be selected through the election by the people. No matter how ‘unavoidable’, taking over the government by rolling in with tanks over the Han River is called a coup d’etat. The success of industrial revolution afterward does not justify May 16.”
  • Lee Jae-Oh (NFP Assembly member, presidential candidate, via his Twitter):  “If May 16 was an unavoidable choice, what will we say to the descendants who claim that Japan-Korea annexation or the Korean War was an unavoidable choice? The act of destroying the constitutional order with swords and guns and usurping the power is none other than a coup d’etat. One cannot cover up or distort history. This is not a matter of difference in opinion or judgment; it is a matter of understanding history. Yushin dictatorship is not an issue that can be left alone for later; it was the era of the cruelest oppression of human rights.”
  • Moon Jae-In (DUP Assembly member, presidential candidate, via his Facebook):  “The May 16 coup d’etat and the yushin dictatorship, the destruction of the constitutional order and democracy, was transformed into a ‘historical choice.’ I share the outrage of the people to the idea that such events were the foundation of today’s Korea. I cannot help but ask whether she intends to lead our Republic to the future, or drag it back to the past. The foundation of today’s Korea is on the historical legitimacy and truth of the April 19 Democracy uprising, which rose against the dictatorship of the Liberty Party; May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement and June 10 Democratization Movement, which placed numerous lives on the altar of history as a sacrifice to end the dark period of military rules, beginning from May 16 coup d’etat to December 12 coup d’etat. This is a historical common sense, shared by every Korean citizen as well as the citizens of the world.”
  • Sohn Hak-Gyu (DUP Assembly member, presidential candidate, in a press conference):  “This is why she truly deserves sympathy. She lives alone, still trapped in the yushin era. Personally, I feel sympathy to Chairwoman Park. She is a victim of yushin, just like myself. I ran away, was imprisoned and tortured; she was trapped in an island, unable to see the world. She simply does not have the DNA for democracy.”
  • Kim Du-Gwan (DUP governor of Gyeongsangnam-do, presidential candidate, in a press release):  “Her basic historical view did not change at all; she only changed the wording from her previous stance that May 16 was a ‘nation-saving determination.’ The advance of Korean society was a result of the people’s bloody sacrifice and effort, not a result of May 16. People are nervous over Chairwoman Park’s anti-democratic view, which still supports the coup d’etat that mobilized the military to topple the government.”
  • Lee Hae-Chan (DUP Assembly member, head of DUP, in a press conference):  “We have been using a relatively neutral term of ‘coup d’etat’, but a more accurate expression with a military mutiny. Who asked Park Chung-Hee to make a choice? Who asked a soldier to choose politics?”
  • Gang Gi-Gap (Head of UPP, in a party meeting):  “A dictator only does his best to maintain his dictatorial power. It may be the best possible choice for the individual dictator, but it is a tremendous misfortune for the people. If Chairwoman Park considers coup d’etat to be the ‘best possible choice,” she needs to answer whether she has any willingness to protect the constitutional democracy.”