President Moon Jae-in's cabinet stripped the South Korean military Tuesday of its controversial right to suppress civic demonstrations with force on the pretext of maintaining social order.
The cabinet did not require legislative permission to abolish the 1950 decree, which empowered military commanders to suppress protests deemed to pose threats to the military, to social order, or to national security.
Military regimes in the 1960s and 1970s invoked the decree to quell anti-government protests, inappropriately in the eyes of many Koreans.
The Defense Ministry cited unconstitutional elements as well as the fact that the decree has not been used for 30 years as reasons for abolishing it.
The decree became especially controversial in the context of Defense Security Command contingency plans to declare martial law in the event the Constitutional Court rejected the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye.