Politics

Presidents Of South Korea

South Korea's President is the Head of State, Chief Executive, and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

The president of the Republic of Korea is directly elected through a secret ballot. He or she serves for a term of five years without the option of a reelection. He is head of state and chief executive of the government. He or She chairs the cabinet and also Commander-in-Chief of the army. The president is also required to uphold the Constitution, preserve the borders of South Korea, veto bills, and has the powers to declare war. He or she has the powers to issue executive orders, issue pardons for convicts, gives medals in honor of excellent services, and declare a state of emergency. Some of the most notable Presidents of South Korea are looked at below.

Former Presidents of South Korea

Syngman Rhee

Syngman Rhee, born in 1875, was a South Korean statesman and the fist President for both the provisional government of South Korea and the Republic of Korea that followed. He was elected the president in August 1948 and served for three terms which ended upon his resignation in 1960. Syngman Rhee was an anti-communist leading the country through the Korean War. He strongly opposed the Soviet Union and the US to establish trustee for Korea. He spent almost a decade in the US before returning to South Korea to lead it to independence. Upon taking office as president, Rhee curtailed political dissent with several leftists arrested and some killed. His tenure was affected by the Cold War tension on the Korean Peninsula. Rhee’s leadership was also characterized by corruption and political repression. He resigned in 1960 and went into exile in Honolulu where he died of stroke on July 19, 1965.

Yun Bo-seon

Yun Bo-seon, born in 1897, was a Korean independence activist and a respected political figure who served as the second president of South Africa. He came into politics following the Liberation Day in 1945. He was appointed the Mayor of Seoul in 1948 and a year later he was made a minister in charge of Commerce and Industry. He was elected president in August 1960 after the ouster of President Rhee. However, he served merely as a figurehead since South Korea had switched to a parliamentary system. He resigned on March 22, 1962, following a coup by Park Chung Hee in 1961. Yun Bo-seon died on July 18, 1990.

Park Chung-hee

Park Chung-hee, born in 1917, was a dictator, president, and military army officer who led the country for 18 years beginning in 1961. He captured power after a coup that brought to an end the Second Republic of Korea in 1961 becoming the third president of the South Korea. He remains a controversial figure in South Korea his supporters consider him as the greatest leader ever in the history of the country. However, his authoritarian rule and numerous abuses of human rights make him the worst leader among his opponents. Park is credited with economic growth and development of the country and began the normalization of the relationship between South Korea and Japan. He was assassinated by one of his security services on October 26, 1979.

Incumbent President Park Geun-hye

The incumbent president, Park Geun-hye, was elected to office in February of 2013. She became the first woman to be elected as President of South Korea. Park is also Northeast Asia’s first female president. She was listed as the most powerful woman in East Asia and the 11th most influential woman in the world in 2014 by Forbes magazine. She is also the daughter to Park Chung-hee, former South Korea’s president.

Presidents Of South Korea

Presidents of South KoreaTerm in Office
Syngman Rhee
1948-1960
Yun Bo-seon
1960-1962
Park Chung-hee
1962-1979
Choi Kyu-hah
1979-1980
Chun Doo-hwan
1980-1988
Roh Tae-woo
1988-1993
Kim Young-sam
1993-1998
Kim Dae-jung
1998-2003
Roh Moo-hyun
2003-2008
Lee Myung-bak
2008-2013
Park Geun-hye (Incumbent)2013-Present

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