Park Chung-hee was a former Republic of Korea Army general and the leader of South Korea from 1961 to 1979. Park seized power in 1961 through a military coup d'état and ruled unelected until formal election as the third President of South Korea in 1963. In 1972 he declared martial law, suspended the country's constitution and made himself president for life. Despite surviving two assassination attempts by agents of North Korea, Park wasassassinated on October 26, 1979 by the chief of his own security services. He ruled South Korea for 18 years.
Park is credited with the industrialisation and rapid economic growth of South Korea through export-oriented industrialization. His authoritarian rule also saw numerous human rights abuses. As such, opinion is split regarding this legacy between those who credit Park for his reforms and those who condemn his authoritarianism. In 1999, Park was named by Time magazine as being one of the top ten "Asians of the Century".