President of South Korea
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|President of the Republic of Korea|
|Style||Mr. President (대통령님)
His Excellency (대통령 각하)
(in international correspondence only; formerly used formally)
|Residence||Blue House, Seoul, South Korea|
|Appointer||Direct popular vote|
|Term length||5 years (not renewable)|
|Inaugural holder||Syngman Rhee
24 July 1948
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The President of the Republic of Korea (Hangul: 대한민국 대통령; Hanja: 大韓民國 大統領) is, according to the South Korean constitution, the chairperson 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. 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 18th President of South Korea. She was also the first woman to assume this post. She has since been impeached on corruption charges, which was confirmed by the South Korean constitutional court on March 10, 2017, removing her from office.
Prime minister Hwang Kyo-ahn has been Acting President since 9 December 2016.
Powers and duties of the president
Chapter 3 of the South Korean constitution states the duties and the powers of the president. The president is required to:
- uphold the Constitution
- preserve the safety and homeland of South Korea
- work for the peaceful reunification of Korea, typically act as the Chairperson of the National Unification Advisory Council
Also, the president is given the powers:
- as the leader of the executive branch of government
- as the commander-in-chief of the South Korean military
- to declare war
- to hold referendum regarding issues of national importance
- to issue executive orders
- to issue medals in honor of service for the nation
- to issue pardons
- to declare a state of emergency suspending all laws or enacting a state of martial law
- to veto bills (subject to a two thirds majority veto override by the National Assembly)
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
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 chairpersonship 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.
|Park Geun-hye||Saenuri Party||15,773,128||51.55|
|Moon Jae-in||Democratic United Party||14,692,632||48.02|
|Source: National Election Commission|
Order of succession
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
1st — Rhee Syng-man
1st, 2nd, & 3rd terms
2nd — Yun Bo-seon
3rd — Park Chung-hee
5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, & 9th terms
(acting: March 1962 – December 1963)
4th — Choi Kyu-hah
(acting: October–December 1979)
(acting: August 1980)[c]
5th — Chun Doo-hwan
11th & 12th terms
6th — Roh Tae-woo
7th — Kim Young-sam
8th — Kim Dae-jung
9th — Roh Moo-hyun
10th — Lee Myung-bak
11th — Park Geun-hye
Living former presidents
As of April 2017, four former presidents are alive:
|Name||Term of office||Age|
|Chun Doo-hwan||1980–1988||86 years, 98 days|
|Roh Tae-woo||1988–1993||83 years, 143 days|
|Lee Myung-bak||2008–2013||75 years, 128 days|
|Park Geun-hye||2013–2017||65 years, 83 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).
- From 9 December 2016, Hwang Kyo-ahn is Acting President, due to the Impeachment of Park Geun-hye. Hwang continues to be acting president after Park's removal from office on 10 March 2017.
- From 26 April to 15 June 1960 and from 23 June to 7 August 1960, Heo Jeong served as Acting President, in the interregnum between the resignation of Syngman Rhee, and the inauguration of Yun Bo-seon
- From 16 August to 1 September 1980, Pak Choong-hoon served as Acting President, in the interregnum between the resignation of Choi Kyu-hah, and the inauguration of Chun Doo-hwan
- From 12 March to 14 May 2004, Goh Kun served as Acting President, due to the impeachment of Roh Moo-hyun. Roh was eventually reinstated as President, after the impeachment motion was overturned by the country's Constitutional Court.
- Air transports of heads of state and government#South Korea
- Official state car#South Korea
- List of Presidents of South Korea
- List of Presidents of South Korea by time in office
- Politics of South Korea
- Elections in South Korea
- National Unification Advisory Council
- Prime Minister of South Korea
- Rulers of Korea
- Governor-General of Korea
- First Spouse of South Korea
- Vice President of South Korea
- Leader of North Korea
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