Park Chunghee was born near Daegu, South Korea. Park led a military coup which overthrew the incumbent civilian government in 1961. Following pressure from the Kennedy administration, a civilian government was restored, with Park winning the election in 1963.
Although Park is generally credited as playing a pivotal role in the development of South Korea's economy, his authoritarian tendencies were unpopular. In 1964, he normalized diplomatic relations with Japan. This move was highly unpopular, causing widespread unrest. Park responded by imposing martial law.
On August 15, 1974 a botched assassination attempt by North Korean agents claimed his wife's life instead. Park himself was assassinated on October 26, 1979 by Kim Jaekyu, the director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency.