SOUTH KOREA: Trials and Errors

As practiced by President Park Chung Hee, "modern democracy" has become an Orwellian synonym for despotic one-man rule. Since January alone, Park has proclaimed four restrictive "emergency decrees," one of which bans any attempt to amend or criticize his custom-tailored constitution, which gives him virtually unlimited powers.

The latest, known as the "death decree," threatens political demonstrators with trial by courts-martial and execution by a firing squad.

Park's current efforts to crack down on what is left of his political opposition center on two trials now taking place in Seoul. The first...

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