Koihime Musou Girls and Korean Patriots, Part V: Zhang Fei and Major General Damien Jang Tae-wan (1931-2010) - The highest rank military officer who stood against Double Twelfth Coup
October 26th 1979, the nation shocked with the Assassination of President Park Chung-hee in the hands of his right-hand man, Kim Jae-kyu - Director of Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA). In that bleakest time, Prime Minister Choi Kyu-hah became acting president as the prime minister stood next in line for the presidency under Article 48 of the Yushin Constitution and subsequently become the country's fourth president.
However in December 12th 1979, Republic of Korea Army Major General Chun Doo-hwan, commander of the Security Command, acting without authorization from Acting President Choi Kyu-hah, ordered the arrest of General Peter Jeong Seung-hwa, ROK Army Chief of Staff, on allegations of involvement in the assassination of President Park Chung Hee. After Jeong's capture, 29th Regiment of the 9th Division, along with the 1st and 3rd Airborne Brigades, invaded downtown Seoul to support the 30th and 33rd Capital Security Group loyal to Chun, then a series of conflicts broke out in the capital. One of General Peter Jeong Seung-hwa's trusted ally, Major General Damien Jang Tae-wan who opposed the coup together with Major General Joseph Jeong Byeong-ju, was arrested by the rebel troops. Major Kim Oh-rang, Aide-de-camp of Jeong Byeong-ju, was killed during the gun-fight.
In this fifth part of Koihime Musou Girls and Korean Patriots, we will talk about the highest rank military officer who stood against Double Twelfth Coup, Major General Jang Tae-wan.
Major General Jang Tae-wan (Hangul/Hanja: 장태완/張泰玩; Born: September 13th 1931 in Seokjeok-eup, Chilgok County, Northern Gyeongsang Province – Died: July 26th 2010 at Seoul Asan Medical Center, Pungnap-dong, Seoul Songpa-gu) was an army general and politician in South Korea. He is a member of Indong Jang Clan (인동 장씨/仁同張氏), a clan which is originated from the Administrative Precinct of Indong-dong, Gumi City, Northern Gyeongsang Province. As a devout Roman Catholic, he received his baptismal name 'Damien' (Kor: 다미아노).
He obtained LL.B (Bachelor of Law) at Chosun University in 1958 after graduating from Army Military Academy in 1951. He participated Korean War (1950-1953) and Vietnam War (1955-1975), serving for the Republic of Korea Army.
Jang was the commander of the Capital Garrison Command (now Capital Defense Command) during the Coup d'état of December Twelfth in 1979. The Hanahoe, which was the prime mover group of the coup d'état tried to appease Jang. However, the staunch Jang rejected it. Instead, Jang cursed and swore at them strongly,
"You goddamn rebels! Do not move and stay there! I will drive a tank right now and blow your heads away!"
and fought against the rebel troops. However he was defeated, being betrayed by his subordinates.
Jang was imprisoned and tortured while his son, a student of Korea's Top Ranked Seoul National University, died under suspicious circumstances and was reputedly murdered by government agents; Jang's father starved himself to death.
In later years, he served as the President of KOSCOM (Korea Securities Computer Corporation/한국증권전산/Hankook Jeunggwon Jeonsan) from February 25th 1982 to March 30th 1989. Then, he appointed to Korean Veterans Association (KORVA) as the president of that association during Kim Young-sam's Presidency and early years of Thomas More Kim Dae-jung's Presidency (1994-2000). After the 16th Korean Republic Legislative Elections, he became 3rd Proportional Representative for Millennium Democratic Party who led by President Thomas More Kim Dae-jung in 16th Session of Gukhoe (2000-2004). In 2001, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Political Studies at Chosun University.
Damien Jang Tae-wan died in 2010 at Seoul Asan Medical Center, Pungnap-dong, Seoul Songpa-gu and was buried with full honors in the Generals' section of Daejeon National Cemetery at Gapdong, Daejeon Yuseong-gu. Many Korean people value him as a symbol of a true soldier, who had stood against coup d'état.