Korea (officially, Republic of Korea, ROK), is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by China to the north and west, Japan to the east, and the East China Sea to the south.
From 1910 to 1952 was annexed by the Empire of Japan, under the name of Chōsen. Ending the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1953) Korea gained its independence.
- First Republic
After the Japanese Second Sino-Japanese War, the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea (in exile) and the People's Liberation Committee of Korea, created on the Japanese retreat from the Korean Peninsula, became the basis provisional government of Korea by a common agreement becoming the National Provisional Government and its political front, the Democratic and Republican Liberation Bloc.
A constitutional assembly was elected in 1954 with the task of drafting a new constitution to be approved by referendum, function has legislative body, elect executive authorities that replace the provisional government and negotiate peace terms with Japan.
The Constituent Assembly's draft was approved in referendum by 62% of the votes, coming in effect July 1955, later known as the Constitution of the I Republic.
Political and social instability and the economic reconstruction characterized the First Republic and were one the consequences of its fall. Prosecution of the chinilpa and their economic trust was a contentious issue with the left supporting and promoting trials and punishment and the national nationalization of their interests and the right being lenient and promoting them as partners in the reconstruction of Korea.
- Second Republic (1957-1971)
In 1957 the Army stage a military coup ending months of political instability. Rhee Syngman was reinstated as president with full executive powers. Among Lee's first actions were the persecution of left wing and opposition parties and the labor movement. An new constitution, 1958, was promulgated given full presidential powers. Rhee and his successor Jeong ruled dictatorial, breaking down leftist opposition that was labeled as war enemies in state propaganda. Social unrest and labor conflicts were swiftly crushed as they were taken as part on an infiltration from Communist Manchuria.
Korea had previous small border confrontations with Manchuria over its northern provinces. The North Chinese-Korean War (1957-1959) started in 1957, a few days after the Coup of 1957 when Chinese troops advance over the border with the purpose of overthrown the military government and install a friendly communist government, but were repelled by Korean forces near Pyongyang. War ended with a provisional delimitation of the North Chinese-Korean frontier. The war indirectly involved USSR and Japan that supplied arms to each side.
In 1959, the government announced the first nationwide industrialization plan and to built in Kaesong, Pyongyang, Wonsan, Suwon, and Daejeon large industrial areas. Heavy industry became a priority in the rebuilding of Korea's economy. The chaebols, Rhee's allies, received special treatment from the government in return for kickbacks and other payments and were key actors in economic development. Workers rights were curtailed with government backing.
- Third Republic (1971-1987)
General Kang's coup of July 1971 inaugurated the Third Republic. The immediate cause of the coup were rivalries in the army between who disagreed with the handling of Jeong Hyeo of the Buddhist crisis and those that carried out the violent repression and killings. The Buddhist crisis was started by a series of decrees that seek to control the naming of monks and superiors and the confiscation of Buddhist temples and properties. Jeong Hyeo was inflexible in these measures in what he saw in the Buddhist as the last group not to be under his control. The violent raid that arrested and later tortured several monks in an operation across Korea changed opinions of many generals of the Korean Army. The Army was already and divided and weaken by the tactics of Jeong Hyeo that ought to prevent it from questioning his rule or trying a coup against him. However the March Raids of 1971 brought together several disgruntled generals to plan and conspire.
The coup of July 1971 brought together several factions being triumphant the one led by General Kang Yeong-hwan. The ruling Junta called for elections of a constituent assembly but keep in place the restrictions enacted by Rhee and Jeong, vetting the participation of left-wing parties and the most notorious politicians of the opposition. Vote rigging already practiced was openly carried out and the Junta made no secret of it. The reason given out was the menace of military aggression by North China, like in 1957, if there were signs of weakness and divisiveness among Koreans. The constituent assembly voted on a previously draft presented by advisors of the Junta only making minor amendments. The Constitution of 1971 repeated the scheme of the previous one in establishing an authoritarian presidential with a weak legislature. However guarantees were given for parties to participate and the presidential election to be done by an electoral college, not the National Assembly as it was previously.
Under Kang and Park the economy of Korea began a cycle of rapid growth helped by the guided capitalism that include state planification with the participation of the chaebols. The top to down dictatorialism of Rhee and Jeong was replaced by a sophisticated mix of authoritarianism, cronyism and corruption. Regional, local and special interest cliques fought for contracts, governmental measures and legislation in order to further their interests. When the national and particular goals agreed the system worked fluidly. The opposition wa tolerated as most of it began to participate in this system. Even labor activism and organization was tolerated and promoted as long as it serve the capitalist process and did not openly criticize the government or hurt the interest of the chaebols. The big winners were the chaebols that previously had to bargain in an unequal terms with the State, now they were partners with the State. The ruling Democratic Republican Party (DRP), at the beginning mere cosmetic makeover of the previous National Liberal Association (NLA), begin to built a network of activists and organizations that easily secured majorities with bridding and favor giving on voters.
The anti-communist and anti-Chinese stance and propaganda of the regime provided for patriotism for even the most vocal or skeptic of Koreans. The cultural legacy and history of Korea and the liberation from Japan were the main motifs of state propaganda, schools and colleges and the news media. This nationalism, already started by Rhee, configure the enemy-friend social and world outlook of many Koreans even to this day.
- Fourth Republic (1987 to date)
The November Coup of 1987 was of mixed results. At first it was like previous coups in toppling down a president and been replaced by the conspirators of the coup. However, the opposition rapidly made counter manifestation backing down the Junta and been replaced by a provisional government that called for elections of a constituent assembly.
State and Government
Korea in his history as an independent state has had the following constitutions: 1955, 1958, 1971 and 1989 (the present one). The constitutions of 1955 and 1989 are based on the Chinese Five-power constitutional theory. The constitutions of 1958 and 1971 established an authoritarian presidential system with a weak legislature.
According to the 1989 Constitution of Korea, all political power and sovereignty comes from the people. It is exercised by means of elections of the political powers specified by the Constitution and by referendum and recall. All male and female citizens over 18 years of age have political rights.
At national level, an based on the Chinese Five-power Constitutional Theory, the State is organized as follows.
- The head of state and government is the President of the Republic, who is elected by direct popular vote for a five-year term. Formerly he or she was elected by the National Assembly (Constitutions of 1958 and 1971). The president is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Korea and enjoys considerable executive powers.
The President performs his executive functions through the State Council made up of 15 to 30 members and presided over by the President, who is solely responsible for deciding all important government policies. The President appoints the Prime Minister for State Affairs with approval of the National Assembly and the rest of the members of the State Council.
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 legislative powers resides in the unicameral National Assembly, whose members are directly elected for a four-year term. The National Assembly cannot be dissolved by the president. The National Assembly can amend the constitution with a two-thirds majority, impeach the President of the Republic and call for vote of confidence on the Prime Minister for State Affairs.
- Judicial powers resides in the National Judicial Council, Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, lower and specialized courts. The Chief Judges of the National Judicial Council are appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly for a six year term. The judges of the Supreme Court are named by the President on the recommendation of the Chief Justice and with the consent of the National Assembly for a six year term. The judges of the Constitutional Court are named by the President (3 members), National Assembly (3) and National Judicial Council (3). All lower and specialized courts of justice are appointed by the National Judicial Council, that also are the ministers the judicial branch.
- Board of Audit and Inspection, in charge of inspecting and examining the revenues and expenditures of the State, the accounts of the State and other organizations specified by Act and the job performances of the executive agencies and public officials. The Board is composed is composed of five to eleven members. The Chairman of the Board is appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly for a term of office of four years. The rest of the members of the Board are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Chairman of the Board, for a term of four years.
- Civil Service Board is in charge of validating the qualification of civil servants, holding of examinations and in in charge of matters relating to employment, registration, performance rating, scales of salary (remuneration), promotion and transfer, security of tenure, recommendation, pecuniary aid in case of death, retirement and old age pension. The Board is integrated by a chairman, a vice chairman, and 9 ministers, each with a six-year term of office. The chairman and vice chairman are appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly for a term of office of six years. The ministers are appointed by the Board of Audit and Control (3 members), National Assembly (3) and National Judicial Council (3).
Heads of State and Government
The main parties of the First Republic where the following:
- Korean National Advancement Party (KNAP), setup by former members of the Japanese administration and the chinilpa;
- Korean Independence Party (KIP), right-nationalists;
- Korean National Revolutionary Party (KNRP), left-nationalism, and pro-Chinese.
- Chondoist Chongu Party, the political vehicle of Cheondoism, of relative importance at provincial level and local elections. Despite various periods when parties were outright banned, Cheondoism was recreated when parties were allowed to exist again making it the oldest party of Korea;
- New People's Party (신민당), the main leftist Marxist party; and
- Liberal Party, a right-wing party and supported by the chinilpa, the personal vehicle of Rhee Syngman.
The KIP and KNRP, were the basis of the Korean Government in exile.
- Second Republic
The military coup of 1957 disbanded and outlawed all parties with the exception of Rhee's Liberal Party that was renamed the National Liberal Association (NLA). Former members of the KNAP and KIP were among its participants. The NLA was the de facto ruling party. Other parties allowed to register, as long as they were not associated with the NPP, KNRP or Communist North China, were the following:
- Democratic Party, established by opposition politicians to the NLA. The party was allowed to participate in elections heavily rigged in favor of the NLA in order to give an appearance of political plurality.
- Third Republic
The coup of 1971 established the Armed Forces as the main political actor of Korea during the Third Republic. The Democratic Republican Party (DRP) was created as the vehicle of the armed forces and was an authoritarian, anti-communism and conservative party that its policies was in favour of state corporatism and had a nationalist outlook. The DRP built and keep a wide based grassroots movement that later the DJP inherited.
Other important parties were:
The New Democratic Party, a splinter of the old Democratic Party. Both parties would later merge in the United Democratic Party (UDP).
The Civil Rule Party, a party of the more liberal and historical Korean nationalism.
- Fourth Republic
The coup of 1987 began a process of democratization of Korea.
- Democratic Justice Party (DJP), the inheritor of the DRP,
- Democratic Labor Party (DLP) a left party, banned after the White Coup of July 1998.
- Unified Progressive Party (UPP) the main left party and successor of the DLP after it was banned,
- United Democratic Party (UDP), the main opposition during the Third Republic that lost most of its electoral support and activists to several small liberal and socio-liberal parties. The UDP as its predecessors was mainly a party of local notables or personalities with each faction having their own loyal followers.
- National Civic Party (NCP), merger of several liberal and socio-liberal parties and groups that previously competed with each other or were formed around liberal personalities. It was the first grassroots activism of liberalism in Korea.
- People's United Party (PUP), the merger of the UPP and (...). The PUP had its traditional links with labor unions and cooperatives as the DLP and UPP had previously had. The PUP as had at least two to three factions that identified with the social-democracy, Marxism or the radical left.
Korea is divided in its first level in provinces and special cities. The second level is divided in cities, counties and districts. These are further subdivided into third-level entities: towns, township, neighborhoods and villages. The governors of the provincial-level divisions and the provincial assemblies and other local government authorities and bodies are elected every four years.
- Special Cities
- North Chungcheong (Cheongju)
- South Chungcheong (Andong)
- Gangwon (Chuncheon)
- Gyeonggi (Suwon)
- North Gyeongsang (Daegu)
- South Gyeongsang (Changwon)
- North Hamgyŏng (Kwanbuk)
- South Hamgyŏng (Hamhung)
- Hwanghae (Haeju)
- North Jeolla (Honam)
- South Jeolla (Gwangju)
- North Pyongan (Sinŭiju)
- South Pyongan (Pyongsong)
- Jeju (Jeju City)
Korea is a mixed economy dominated by family-owned conglomerates (chaebols). The major development of Korean economy was mainly done by the guided capitalism of the 1960s to the 1980s.
Korea as two distinguishing regions. The northern half is heavily industrialized, covered with factories, mines, and power plants and the southern half is primarily agrarian in nature with rice and soy patties, wheat fields, farms, and several other crops. There is some minor farming activity in the north, primarily on the east coast and the west coast on the flat plains; and some industrial centers, mainly around Seoul and Busan, in the south.
After the liberation the Korean Liberation Army (KLA) and Korean People's Army (KPA) were merged in the ROK Defense Forces. It is organized in the following branches:
- Korean Army
- Korean Navy
- Korean Air Force
- Korean Marine Corps
- Korea Coast Guard
Culture and Society
- Public holiday
- 1 January - New Year's Day
- 1st day of 1st Lunar month - Seollal (Korean New Year) - 3 Days off.
- 1 March - Independence Movement Day (1919) - National Public Holiday
- 8 March - International Women’s Day
- 1 May - International Labor Day
- 5 May - Children's Day
- 8th day of 4th lunar month - Buddha's Birthday
- July - First Constitution Memorial Day
- 15th day of 8th lunar month - Chuseok - 3 Days off.
- 3 October - National Foundation DAy
- 9 October - Hangeul Day
- 9th day of the 9th month - Jungyangjeol (중양절)
- 18 October - Liberation Day
- 25 December - Christmas Day
- Korean elites who had collaborated with the Japanese