Friday, November 06, 2009

Death of a political candidate in South Korea 1956. It seems the sitting President was careful to make sure his enemies did not live to beat him.

President Rhee with MacArthur.

The Republic of Korea re-elected 81-year-old President Syngman Rhee to his third term in May, 1956. Rhee's opponent and main critic, P. H. Shinicky, died during the campaign. His death touched off riots in Seoul and Pusan until doctors assured the public that he had died from natural causes. John M. Chang, Shinicky's running-mate, was elected vice-president. He was wounded slightly in an attempted assassination in September. This was not the only one of Rhee political opponents to die while running against the President for the office. This fellow did as he pleased and was finally forced from office. But he left a trail of death and murder in his wake.

P.H Shinicly

Now lets go back to 1956 and what was happening there in South Korea. Here is an article from Time Magazine shortly after the death of Shinicly, in which the truth was never told.

Time Magazine May 14, 1956

It takes a brave man to oppose highhanded, old (81) Syngman Rhee, who has won every presidential election since South Korea became a republic in 1948. As the leader who fought the Japanese for half a century and held his country together against the Communists, Rhee is the only man whose name is a household word in his nation. He has never been content to leave it at that. Opponents have found it unhealthy to defy Rhee and his machine; some have been beaten up or jailed; others have decided to withdraw. This year, seeking a third term, Rhee faced a man who also fought the Japanese and was not afraid of fighting Syngman Rhee: P. H. Shinicky (Shin Ikhi), a longtime critic of Rhee in the National Assembly. Rhee, confident of victory, has not even bothered to campaign for next week's election.
Shinicky, 62, campaigned vigorously. One day last week, after charging that national police were intimidating people into voting for Rhee, he boarded a train in Seoul to begin a stumping tour of southwestern Korea. As the train sped south, Shinicky slumped over quietly, died later of a cerebral hemorrhage. Word of his death was flashed back to Seoul, and his body was put aboard a special government train for return to the capital.
As the train pulled into Seoul, it was met by a crowd of 20,000, many of them students from Korea University and the National University of Seoul, both anti-Rhee strongholds. "Overthrow Dictator Syngman Rhee," they shouted. Some climbed over the train and smashed windows in an effort to view Shinicky's body. Then, when the body was transferred to an ambulance, demonstrators snake-danced through the streets after it.
When the procession passed the presidential mansion, the mob shouted anti-Rhee slogans, wanted to carry Shinicky's body in to Rhee. Police fired over their heads. Under cover of a barrage of stones, about 300 demonstrators continued to advance. The guards lowered their rifles and fired a volley into the mob, wounding several. Police reinforcements soon ar rived, breaking up the biggest riot against Rhee since the end of the Korean war.
The government announced that it was too late for Shinicky's Democratic Party to enter another candidate.

Now it has been found in later years that Shinicky was indeed assassinated. It was the early days of South Korea and indeed Rhee was the tyrant that many thought him in the past.