Park gov’t had early plan to impose martial law

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Park gov’t had early plan to impose martial law

The Park Geun-hye administration had planned to impose martial law from the early months of the candlelight rallies calling for Park’s impeachment in 2016, a military human rights organization said Monday.

“We have the titles of 11 documents submitted by the [now-defunct] Defense Security Command [DSC] to the presidential secretary for civil affairs, minister of defense and head of the National Security Office from Nov. 7 to Dec. 9 in 2016,” the Military Human Rights Center for Korea said in a statement Monday. “Based on the titles, such as one document dated Dec. 9, 2016, about possible measures to take should Park be impeached, we suspect the Park administration and the DSC were closely watching the candlelight rallies in the early stages and discussing options to take such as martial law.”

Dec. 9, 2016, was when the National Assembly voted in favor of Park’s impeachment.

“On that day, then DSC-chief Cho Hyun-chun had a one-on-one meeting with Park,” the organization said. “We also found evidence that Kim Kwan-jin, then head of the National Security Office, had ordered an official in the Ministry of National Defense to review a martial law plan in October 2016.”

Allegations that Park allowed her close friend to influence decisions at the state-level first surfaced in October 2016. Following investigations, Park was impeached for power abuse and her involvement in a corruption scandal and removed from office in March 2017. She was placed under arrest that same month and indicted in April that same year.

Candlelight rallies to call for her ouster were held weekly at Gwanghwamun Square from October 2016 to April 2017. “We suspect the Park government and DSC understood at the time that it may not be possible to maintain the administration for long,” the organization said. “We also suspect that the prosecution had known about the existence of these documents since it raided the DSC last year.”

The alleged martial law plan first surfaced when a nine-page document was revealed to the public by Rep. Rhee Cheol-hee of the Democratic Party in July last year.

A special investigation team was set up by the government that month, under the order of President Moon Jae-in, to probe the allegations. It was suspended in November last year after failing to track down a key suspect, Cho, chief of DSC from 2014 to 2017.

Military Human Rights Center for Korea said that it will request the government to reveal the contents of these documents in the near future.

“We will try to reveal to the public what we find regarding the martial law plan,” the organization said. “They should have been revealed by the prosecution but it failed to do so.”

The organization had claimed recently that key figures in the government such as Hwang Kyo-ahn, former prime minister and current head of the Liberty Korea Party, and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl were involved in the alleged plan by the Park administration to impose martial law.

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