Read Part 10 HERE
For the time being, things went on as normal however with Detachment K providing airborne support for a presidential Special Forces capabilities demonstration. On October 26th of 1979, President Park and KCIA director Kim were having dinner at the Blue House when a heated political discussion broke out about the protests and how greater levels of repression were required. Whether Kim had a psychotic break, buckled under pressure, or executed a pre-meditated plan remains unknown but excusing himself from the table, the KCIA director returned with a Walther PPK pistol and assassinated President Park and his chief bodyguard. This triggered a series of events that threatened to bring Korea to the brink. Fearing that the north would exploit the ensuing chaos, the United States deployed AWACs aircraft to monitor North Korean troop movements (Young, 58).
As stipulated by the Korean constitution, Prime Minister Choi Kyu Ha became the acting president but, “it was obvious to even the most unsophisticated observer that the focus of power in South Korea remained with the military,” (Young, 60). The US State Department declined to build stronger relations with South Korean military officers, feeling it appropriate as they should only engage with the civilian government, regardless of the pragmatic political reality of who was really in charge. This proved to be a mistake when the former 1st Special Forces Brigade commander General Chung Doo Hwan launched a military coup on December 12th, later to be known as the 12/12 incident.
In between the assassination and the 12/12 incident was that year’s Foal Eagle exercise, which again went hot when North Korean infiltrators were detected on the Anymyon-do Peninsula. Det K member Horace Boner helped several South Korean Special Forces teams infiltrate the area of operations with US Army CH-47 helicopters. They mopped up the North Koreans, killing at least three of them and recovering their infiltration equipment (Det K, 80).