Image: Diagram of planned troop movement to crack down the Candlelight Protests of 2016-17, based on the coup plan document of the Defense Security Command. Credit: Military Human Rights Center.
The ruling People Power Party 국민의힘 filed a criminal complaint against Moon Jae-in 문재인 administration officials and others who revealed the military coup plot during the Candlelight Protests 촛불시위 of 2017. The coup plot, based on a 67-page document created by the Defense Security Command 국군기무사령부, contemplated a military crackdown on the Candlelight Protests by declaring martial law and sending in 750 tanks and armored cars and more than 5k soldiers. The coup plan included using force to disband the protesters, arresting opposition politicians and suspending the operation of the press.
The document was revealed on July 2018 by the Military Human Rights Center 군인권센터, a civic group that received the document from a whistleblower. Based on the investigation led by then-Defense Minister Song Yeong-mu 송영무 국방부장관, the Moon administration disbanded the DSC that led the coup plot. The Moon administration also sought to arrest former general Jo Hyeon-cheon, the DSC commander, who had fled to the United States in December 2017.
In its complaint, PPP alleged that former Defense Minister Song, former DSC commander Lee Seok-gu 이석구 전 기무사령관, who succeeded Jo, and Im Tae-hun 임태훈 of the Military Human Rights Center illegally leaked a classified document, which was created to prepare for a potentially chaotic situation. Im noted that the conservative party previously filed two complaints against him based on the same claim in 2018, both of which were dismissed. Through his attorney, former general Jo - currently a fugitive with a canceled passport and under Interpol Red Notice - said he would “voluntarily return to Korea to assist the investigation.”