This Year in the DMZ War

Important incidents in the DMZ or affecting it. Send us your stories to add (below). Summaries from the Congressional Research Service. Additional research from the DMZ War.

1974:

The first DMZ infiltration tunnel was discovered and North Korea attacked ROK ships in 1974 (see below). But the year’s most dramatic event was the attempted assassination of South Korean leader Park Chung-hee.

Park, a general, was the architect of the “Miracle on the Han,” South Korea’s rapid growth from an economic basket case to vibrant export economy. Park and his security team knew he was on the North Korea hit list; he had escaped a communist suicide squad that almost made it to his residence in 1968.

On August 15, 1974, Park was giving a speech at Seoul’s National Theater on the anniversary of his nation’s liberation from Japan. Suddenly a man with a revolver began rushing down the aisle, shooting. It was Mun Se-gwang, a North Korean sympathizer born in Japan.

Mun missed Park but shot dead his wife, Yuk Young-soo. A high school student was also killed in the exchange of fire between the Mun and Park’s bodyguard (see video below).

The steely Park resumed his speech even as his wife was being taken away.

Mun, who traveled to South Korea on a Japanese passport, had been assisted by the North Korean front group in Japan and was hanged several months after the attack. The incident chilled South Korean/Japanese relations.

Park’s luck eventually ran out. He was killed by his own security chief in 1979.