Fifth Republic of Korea

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Fifth Republic of Korea
Capital Seoul
Languages Korean
Government Republic (de jure)
Military dictatorship (de facto)
President Chun Doo-hwan
Historical era Cold War
 •  Established 3 March 1981
 •  First democratic elections 16 December 1987
 •  Sixth Republic established 19 December 1987
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Fourth Republic of South Korea
Republic of Korea
Part of a series on the
History of South Korea
Division of Korea 1945–48
USAMGIK 1945–48
First Republic 1948–60
Korean War 1950–53
Syngman Rhee administration 1948–60
April Revolution 1960
Heo Jeong Caretaker Government 1960
Second Republic 1960–61
Jang Myeon Cabinet 1960–61
May 16 coup 1961
Constitutional Vacuum 1961–63
Yoon Bo-seon administration 1961–62
First Junta 1961–63
Third Republic 1963–72
Park Chung-hee administration 1963–72
October Restoration 1972
Fourth Republic 1972–81
Assassination of Park Chung-hee 1979
December 12 coup 1979
May 17 coup 1980
Gwangju Uprising 1980
Fifth Republic 1981–88
Chun Doo-hwan administration 1981–87
June Democratic Uprising 1987
Sixth Republic 1988–present
Roh Tae-woo administration 1988–93
Kim Young-sam administration 1993–98
National Moratorium 1997–2001
Kim Dae-jung administration 1998–2003
Roh Moo-hyun administration 2003–2008
Lee Myung-bak administration 2008–2013
Park Geun-hye administration 2013–2017
Moon Jae-in administration 2017–2022
Flag of South Korea.svg South Korea portal

The Fifth Republic of South Korea was the government of South Korea from 1981 to 1987, replacing the Fourth Republic of South Korea. Throughout this period, the government was controlled by Chun Doo-hwan, a military colleague of the assassinated president Park Chung-hee. This period saw extensive efforts at reform. It laid the foundations for the relatively stable democratic system of the subsequent Sixth Republic in 1987.


After the assassination of Park by Kim Jae-kyu in 1979, a vocal civil society emerged that led to strong protests against authoritarian rule. Composed primarily of university students and labor unions, protests reached a climax after Major General Chun Doo-hwan's 1979 Coup d'état of December Twelfth and declaration of martial law on May 17. The expanded martial law closed universities, banned political activities and further curtailed the press. The event of May 17 marked the beginning of another military dictatorship.

On May 18, 1980, a confrontation broke out in the city of Gwangju between civilians and armed forces, with the military forces winning out nine days later on May 27. Immediate estimates of the civilian death toll ranged from a few dozen to 2000, with a later full investigation by the civilian government finding 606 deaths (see: Gwangju Massacre).

On May 17, Chun Doo-hwan forced the Cabinet to expand martial law to the whole nation, which had previously not applied to Jeju-do. The expanded martial law closed universities, banned political activities and further curtailed the press. Chun assumed the presidency due to the events of May 17, triggering nationwide protests demanding democracy, in particular in the city of Gwangju, where Chun sent special forces to violently suppress the Gwangju Democratization Movement. Chun subsequently created the National Defense Emergency Policy Committee and took the presidency according to his political plan. Public outrage over the killings consolidated nationwide support for democracy, paving the road for the first democratic elections in 1987.

See also[edit]