President of South Korea

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President of the
Republic of Korea
Seal of the President of the Republic of Korea.svg
Presidential Seal
Presidential Standard of the Republic of Korea.svg
Presidential Standard
Park Geun-hye (8724400493) (cropped).jpg
Park Geun-hye

since 25 February 2013
Powers and duties suspended by Parliament since
9 December 2016

Acting: Hwang Kyo-ahn
Style Mr./Ms. President (대통령)
His/Her Excellency (대통령 각하)
Residence Blue House, Seoul, South Korea
Appointer Direct popular vote
Term length 5 years (not renewable)
Inaugural holder Syngman Rhee
24 July 1948
Website (English)
(Korean) [1]
Emblem of South Korea.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Republic of Korea

The President of the Republic of Korea (대한민국 대통령; 大韓民國大統領) is, according to the South Korean constitution, the chairman of the cabinet, the chief executive of the government, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the head of state of South Korea. The Constitution and the amended Presidential Election Act of 1987 provide for election of the president by direct, secret ballot, ending sixteen years of indirect presidential elections under the preceding two governments. The president is directly elected to a five-year term with no possibility of re-election.[1] If a presidential vacancy should occur, a successor must be elected within sixty days, during which time presidential duties are to be performed by the prime minister or other senior cabinet members in the order of priority as determined by law. While in office, the chief executive lives in Cheong Wa Dae (the "Blue House"), and is exempt from criminal liability (except for insurrection or treason).

On February 25, 2013, Park Geun-hye became the 11th and current president of South Korea. She is also the country's first woman to assume this post. She has since been impeached on corruption charges.

Powers and duties of the president[edit]

Chapter 3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea states the duties and the powers of the president. The president is required to:

Also, the president is given the powers:

If the National Assembly votes against a presidential decision, it will be declared void immediately.

The president may refer important policy matters to a national referendum, declare war, conclude peace and other treaties, appoint senior public officials, and grant amnesty (with the concurrence of the National Assembly). In times of serious internal or external turmoil or threat, or economic or financial crises, the president may assume emergency powers "for the maintenance of national security or public peace and order." Emergency measures may be taken only when the National Assembly is not in session and when there is no time for it to convene. The measures are limited to the "minimum necessary."

The 1987 Constitution removed the 1980 Constitution's explicit provisions that empowered the government to temporarily suspend the freedoms and rights of the people. However, the president is permitted to take other measures that could amend or abolish existing laws for the duration of a crisis. It is unclear whether such emergency measures could temporarily suspend portions of the Constitution itself. Emergency measures must be referred to the National Assembly for concurrence. If not endorsed by the assembly, the emergency measures can be revoked; any laws that had been overridden by presidential order regain their original effect. In this respect, the power of the legislature is more vigorously asserted than in cases of ratification of treaties or declarations of war, in which the Constitution simply states that the National Assembly "has the right to consent" to the president's actions. In a change from the 1980 Constitution, the 1987 Constitution stated that the president is not permitted to dissolve the National Assembly.

Related constitutional organs[edit]

The official residence of the president is Cheong Wa Dae. It means 'the House of the Blue Roof Tiles', so it is also called the "Blue House" in English. The president is assisted by the staff of the Presidential Secretariat, headed by a cabinet-rank secretary general. Apart from the State Council, or cabinet, the chief executive relies on several constitutional organs.

These constitutional organs included the National Security Council, which provided advice concerning the foreign, military, and domestic policies bearing on national security. Chaired by the president, the council in 1990 had as its statutory members the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the ministers for foreign affairs, home affairs, finance, and national defense, the director of the Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP) which was known as the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) until December 1980, and others designated by the president. Another important body is the National Unification Advisory Council, inaugurated in June 1981 under the chairmanship of the president. From its inception, this body had no policy role, but rather appeared to serve as a government sounding board and as a means to disburse political rewards by providing large numbers of dignitaries and others with titles and opportunities to meet periodically with the president and other senior officials.

The president also was assisted in 1990 by the Audit and Inspection Board. In addition to auditing the accounts of all public institutions, the board scrutinized the administrative performance of government agencies and public officials. Its findings were reported to the president and the National Assembly, which itself had broad powers to inspect the work of the bureaucracy under the provisions of the Constitution. Board members were appointed by the president.

One controversial constitutional organ was the Advisory Council of Elder Statesmen, which replaced a smaller body in February 1988, just before Roh Tae Woo was sworn in as president. This body was supposed to be chaired by the immediate former president; its expansion to eighty members, broadened functions, and elevation to cabinet rank made it appear to have been designed, as one Seoul newspaper said, to "preserve the status and position of a certain individual." The government announced plans to reduce the size and functions of this body immediately after Roh's inauguration. Public suspicions that the council might provide former President Chun with a power base within the Sixth Republic were rendered moot when Chun withdrew to an isolated Buddhist temple in self-imposed exile in November 1988.

Latest election[edit]

e • d Summary of the 19 December 2012 South Korean presidential election results
Candidate Party Votes %
Park Geun-hye Saenuri Party 15,773,128 51.55
Moon Jae-in Democratic United Party 14,692,632 48.02
Kang Ji-won Independent 53,303 0.17
Kim Soon-ja Independent 46,017 0.15
Kim So-yeon Independent 16,687 0.05
Park Jong-sun Independent 12,854 0.04
Invalid/blank votes 126,838
Total 30,721,459 100
Registered voters/turnout 40,507,842 75.84
Source: National Election Commission

Order of succession[edit]

Article 71 of the Constitution of South Korea states, 'In the event of the president not being able to discharge the duties of his/her office, the Prime Minister and ministers in line of the order of succession shall be the acting president.' Article 68 of the Constitution requires the acting president to hold new elections within 60 days.

According to article 12, section 2 and article 22, section 1 of the Government Organization Act, order of succession follows:

  • Prime Minister
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education
  • Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Minister of Unification
  • Minister of Justice
  • Minister of National Defense
  • Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs
  • Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism
  • Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy
  • Minister of Health and Welfare
  • Minister of Environment
  • Minister of Employment and Labor
  • Minister of Gender Equality and Family
  • Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs
  • Minister of Oceans and Fisheries

List of presidents[edit]

Hwang Kyo-ahn Park Geun-hye Lee Myung-bak Roh Moo-hyun Goh Kun Roh Moo-hyun Kim Dae-jung Kim Young-sam Roh Tae-woo Chun Doo-hwan Park Choong-hoon Choi Kyu-hah Park Chung-hee Park Chung-hee Yun Bo-seon Heo Jeong Rhee Syng-man

Living former presidents[edit]

As of February 2017, three former presidents are alive:

Name Term of office Age
Chun Doo-hwan 1980–1988 86 years, 30 days
Roh Tae-woo 1988–1993 83 years, 75 days
Lee Myung-bak 2008–2013 75 years, 60 days

The longest-lived President was Yun Bo-seon, who died on July 18, 1990 (at the age of 92 years, 326 days).

The most recent President to die was Kim Young-sam, who died on November 22, 2015 (at the age of 87 years, 337 days).


  1. The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was a government in exile based in Shanghai, China. Although the current South Korean constitution recognizes its de jure sovereignty over the Korean people at the time, the provisional government was not recognized by many international powers.
  2. Hong Jin is also known as Hong Myeon-hui (홍면희).
  3. Heo Jeong (허정) also headed a caretaker government for a brief time following the 1960 April Revolution which overthrew the First Republic.
  4. From 1961 to 1963, Park Chung-hee held the real power as chairman of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction.
  5. From March 12 to May 14, 2004, Prime Minister Goh Kun (고건) was the acting president, and from Dec 19, 2016, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo Ahn(황교안) is the acting president.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]