24 May 1980 – Kim Jae Kyu

Meet our second assassin of the month. And guess what? He shot another head of state. This time it’s Kim Jae Kyu, who was found guilty of bumping off the president of South Korea, Park Chung Hee.

Unlike John Bellingham, who had launched a revenge attack for having lost everything, Jae Kyu was just wasted on whisky. He’d been hosting a dinner party, when he had an argument with one of his guests, and lost it completely.

Instead of kissing and making up, the host from hell grabbed a gun from upstairs and shot the lot of them. Hearing shots, other men burst into the room and fired shots at the guests too.

The irony is that Jae Kyu and the president were mates – indeed Jae Kyu, a former army officer, actually headed up the country’s intelligence service.

So why did he do it? Frustration apparently – Jae Kyu had been encouraging Chung Hee to take a softer line on dissidents. At least, that was one story. But it was more likely to be due to the fact that Jae Kyu was worried he was going to get fired, because the president no longer trusted him. Or maybe it was down to the theory that the president had outlived his useful life in power and was losing his edge

Seoul for a soul

Whatever the reason, bravado brought on by whisky has a habit of wearing off and Jae Kyu lost his job alright after he handed himself in.

His actions were hasty indeed. Given the volatile situation between North and South Korea a chain of events kicked in. North Korea aggressively upped the ante on the border. The Americans were primed and ready to step in on the side of South Korea if need be and speculation as to the president’s successor kicked off with violent riots and demonstrations.

Jae Kyu, in the meantime, was found guilty of murder and hanged aged 54.

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One Response to “24 May 1980 – Kim Jae Kyu”

  1. Jessica Says:

    you make it seem like the killing occurred accidently- from being drunk and merely angry. but he himself confessed that he had planned the assassination several times (though he chose not to carry them out). the confessed that it was for the sake of democracy and security of the Korean citizens. And whether that was really the case is something we’d never truely know. but i just think it’s a bit offensive and ignorant for you to say that the assassination happened when he was “just wasted on whiskey”. Also, where are your sources for this? some of your information seem a bit inaccurate (such as.. he didn’t really have a choice of handing himself in)

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