National Geographic : 1975 Sep
Shadow of controversy surrounds Park Chung Hee, South Korea's Presi dent (left), who seized power as an army general in a 1961 coup. Under his rule, the country's once-stagnant economy was vitalized by industriali zation. But the ironclad 1972 constitu tion, which allows the national leader an unlimited number of terms and sweeping emergency powers, continues to spark vehement protests. Hundreds of students, church leaders, intellec tuals, and others have been jailed; some, since freed, charge they were tortured. After further furor, President Park in May 1975 proclaimed as an "emergency security measure" even harsher prison penalties for dissidents -from one year to life for those who publicly challenge the constitution. "Two national referendums have shown that a majority of the people support the constitution," President Park told NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC photographer Edward Kim, a native of Seoul. "I believe only a small num ber of people are standing against it." Sharply disagreeing, opposition party leader Kim Young Sam (left) who noted that many voters avoided the polls-charged that pre-referen dum dissent was muffled and claimed fraud in the ballot counting. "The Korean people want to recover great er freedom and democracy," he says. "Even our new prosperity is shallow. A child with a lung disease may grow very tall, but he will die young. South Korea has such a disease." "Fight for restoration of human rights," reads the badge of a woman at a Catholic prayer meeting in Seoul (lower left). Riot police do not always discriminate among demonstrators; all demonstrations are illegal. Even Ko rean War veterans marching in sup port of the President get a dose of tear gas (below).