Prime Minister of South Korea

Prime Minister for State Affairs of the Republic of Korea
국무총리 / 國務總理

Prime ministerial standard

Prime ministerial emblem

since 2 Nov 2016
Style His/Her Excellency
Appointer President of South Korea
(with the National Assembly's approval)
Term length No fixed term
Inaugural holder Lee Beom-seok
Formation 31 July 1948
Website (English)
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
South Korea
Prime Minister of South Korea
Hangul 국무총리
Hanja 國務總理
Revised Romanization Gungmuchongni
McCune–Reischauer Kungmuch'ongni

The Prime Minister for State Affairs (국무총리 / 國務總理, Gungmuchongni) is appointed by the President of South Korea, with the National Assembly's approval. Commonly known in the English-speaking world as Prime Minister of South Korea, the person is not required to be a member of the National Assembly. The Prime Minister is not the head of government but rather serves in a role similar to that of a vice-president.


The Sino-Korean word gungmu (국무/國務) means "state affairs" and chongni (총리/總理) means "prime minister", "premier" or "chancellor", so the full title in Korean means literally "Prime Minister for State Affairs", but it is not used as official English title. The short title in Korean is just Chongni.


The position was created on 31 July 1948, two weeks before the government of South Korea was founded, and was held by Lee Beom-seok until 1950. The title was Chief Cabinet Minister from 1961 until 1963.

On 27 April 2014, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won announced his desire to resign.[1] However, due to unsuccessful nominations, Chung remained in office until February 2015.

On 23 January 2015, President Park Geun-hye named Saenuri's Floor Leader Lee Wan-koo as the new prime minister. Lee was confirmed by the National Assembly as prime minister on 16 February 2015.[2] However, on April 20 of the same year, he offered his resignation to the President in the midst of a bribery scandal.[3]


The prime minister is the principal executive assistant to the president, who is the actual head of government, not the prime minister.[4] The prime minister holds the second position after the president in the State Council of South Korea, which is the cabinet. The prime minister assists the head of state by supervising ministries, make recommendations for ministers, and is the vice chairman of the Cabinet. The Prime Minister is the first in the order of succession to discharge the duties of the office of the President as the Acting President should the president be unable to discharge her or his office. The last person to have served as Acting President was Goh Kun during the impeachment trial of President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004.

A prime minister that has been appointed by the president but not yet confirmed by the National Assembly is known as the acting Prime Minister. The term may also be applied to a Prime Minister that has resigned but in the interim remains in office in a caretaker role. The Prime Minister becomes acting president if the president dies, resigns or is impeached.

The Prime Minister's Office is supported by two deputy prime ministers.[5]

Lists of Prime Ministers of South Korea

See also


  1. "S. Korean PM resigns over government response to ferry disaster" AsiaOne. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  2. "Parliament endorses PM nominee" Yonhap News Agency. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  3. The Associated Press (21 April 2015). "S. Korean PM to resign after 2 months amid bribe scandal". The Yomiuri Shimbun.
  4. "Government > Executive Branch" Office for Government Policy Coordination Prime Minister's Secretariat.
  5. "Government > Organization Chart" Office for Government Policy Coordination Prime Minister's Secretariat.

External links

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