Rights group disclosed alleged document on desk plan for pro-Park coup

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : July 6, 2018, 18:19 | Updated : July 6, 2018, 18:19

[Courtesy of Military Human Rights Center for Korea]

SEOUL -- A human rights group disclosed what it called a military desk plan for a coup to safeguard South Korea's jailed ex-president Park Geun-hye at the height of demonstrations in March last year when the constitutional court made a landmark decision to confirm her impeachment.

The plan was drawn up by So Gang-won, an army major general at the Defense Security Command (DSC), a counterintelligence unit charged with internal security and the deterrence of subversion, according to the Military Human Rights Center for Korea on Friday.

"It was not for the normal declaration of a martial law but a self-coup plan to illegally take control of the nation," the center told a news conference, calling for punishment of all the people involved on charges of conspiring for a rebellion.

A DSC document, which was allegedly reported to top military officers at the time, called for a garrison decree to mobilize some 200 tanks, 550 armored vehicles, 4,800 armed troops and 1,400 paratroopers if the constitutional court refused to endorse Park's impeachment on March 10, the center said.

If the situation gets worse, the document allegedly suggested a martial law should be imposed to mobilize front-line troops and mechanized units stationed north of Seoul and send them across the country. "It was a very dangerous idea to lose our national defense line," the center said, adding the plan was not carried out because Park's impeachment was upheld.

The alleged DSC document was not verified and there was no comment or confirmation from military authorities.  Ex-president Chun Doo-hwan staged a coup in a similar way in to seize power while serving as a top DSC officer in 1979 after Park's father was assassinated.
Park's impeachment followed a wave of anti-government protests that saw millions of citizens taking to the streets for months in an unprecedented demonstration of people power and paralyzed state affairs.

As a culprit behind a corruption scandal that revealed deep-rooted collusive ties between businessmen and politicians, Park received a 24-year jail sentence in April after a court found her guilty of abusing her power to extort money from businessmen. Her crony, Choi Soon-sil, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for causing a state crisis by controlling government affairs arbitrarily for her personal interests.
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