President of South Korea
The President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 of the Republic of Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

is, according to the Constitution of the Republic of Korea
Constitution of the Republic of Korea
The Constitution of the Republic of Korea is its basic law. It was promulgated on July 17, 1948, and last revised in 1987.- History :...

, chief executive of the government, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 of the Republic of 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
Prime Minister of South Korea
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea is appointed by the President with the National Assembly's approval. Unlike prime ministers in the parliamentary system, the Prime Minister of South Korea is not required to be a member of parliament....

 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
Cheong Wa Dae
The Cheongwadae or Blue House is the executive office and official residence of the South Korean head of state, the President of the Republic of Korea...

 and is exempt from criminal liability except for insurrection or treason.

Since February 25, 2008, Lee Myung-bak is the incumbent President of South Korea..

Powers and duties of the president

Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea state the duties and the powers of the President
The president is required to
  • uphold the Constitution
  • preserve the safety and homeland of the Republic of Korea
  • work for the peaceful unification of Korea

Also, the president is given the powers
  • as the leader of the executive branch of government
  • as the commander-in-chief of the military of the Republic of Korea
  • to declare war
  • to hold referenda 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 a state of martial law

If the National Assembly votes against the President's decisions, it will be declared void immediately.

The president may, at his own discretion, 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
Cheong Wa Dae
The Cheongwadae or Blue House is the executive office and official residence of the South Korean head of state, the President of the Republic of Korea...

. 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, known as the Korean Central Intelligence Agency—KCIA—until December 1980), and others designated by the president. Another body was the Advisory Council for Peaceful Unification Policy, 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

Order of succession

In the event of the president not being able to discharge the duties of his/her office, the order of succession to the position of acting president is governed by the section 71 of the Constitution of South Korea, and section 26 of the Government Organisation Act. The acting president is required to hold new elections within 60 days.

Living former presidents

three former presidents are alive :
NameTerm of officeAge
Chun Doo-hwan
Chun Doo-hwan
Chun Doo-hwan was a ROK Army general and the President of South Korea from 1980 to 1988. Chun was sentenced to death in 1996 for his heavy-handed response to the Gwangju Democratization Movement, but later pardoned by President Kim Young-sam with the advice of then President-elect Kim Dae-jung,...

Roh Tae-woo
Roh Tae-woo
Roh Tae-woo , is a former ROK Army general and politician. He was the 13th president of South Korea .Roh befriended Chun Doo-hwan while in high school in Daegu. In his younger life, Roh was a keen rugby union player....

Kim Young-sam
Kim Young-sam
Kim Young-sam was a South Korean politician and democratic activist. From 1961, he spent 30 years as South Korea's leader of the opposition, and one of Park Chung-hee's most powerful rivals....


The oldest president ever is Yun Bo-seon
Yun Bo-seon
Yun Bo-seon was a Korean former independence activist and politician, and the President of South Korea from 1960 to 1962. Studying in the UK, he graduated from the University of Edinburgh and gained an M.A., After returning home in 1932...

 who died in July 18, 1990 at age , followed by Heo Jeong
Heo Jeong
Heo Jeong was a Korean politician and independence activist. Heo was the sixth prime minister of South Korea during the Second Republic. He was also an acting prime minister during the First Republic...

 who died in September 18, 1988 at age only 163 days less than Yun Bo-seon, the current oldest living president will tie this record if he lives to November 11, 2020

See also

  • List of Presidents of South Korea
  • List of Presidents of South Korea by time in office
  • Politics of South Korea
    Politics of South Korea
    Politics of the Republic of Korea takes place in the framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President is the head of state, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and...

  • Elections in South Korea
    Elections in South Korea
    Elections in South Korea are held on national level to select the President and the National Assembly.The president is directly elected for a single five-year term by plurality vote. The National Assembly has 299 members elected for a four-year term, 245 in single-seat constituencies and 54 members...

  • Prime Minister of South Korea
    Prime Minister of South Korea
    The Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea is appointed by the President with the National Assembly's approval. Unlike prime ministers in the parliamentary system, the Prime Minister of South Korea is not required to be a member of parliament....

  • Rulers of Korea
  • Governor-General of Korea
    Governor-General of Korea
    The post of Japanese Governor-General of Korea served as the chief administrator of the Japanese government in Korea while it was held as the Japanese colony of Chōsen from 1910 to 1945...

  • List of Korea-related topics
  • First Lady of South Korea
    First Lady of South Korea
    The First Lady of South Korea is the wife of the President of South Korea. During the administration of President Park Chung-hee, his daughter, Park Geun-hye, assumed the duties of First Lady after her mother, Yuk Young-soo, was assassinated.-List:...

External links

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