Prime Minister of South Korea

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea (Korean: 국무총리; Hanja: 國務總理; RR: Gungmuchongni) (informally referred to as PMOTROK or PMOSK) is appointed by the President of South Korea, with the National Assembly's approval. The officeholder 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.

Prime Minister of the
Republic of Korea
대한민국 국무총리
Prime ministerial emblem
Prime ministerial standard
Lee Nak-yeon

since 31 May 2017
Executive branch of the Government of South Korea
Prime Minister’s Office
StylePrime Minister (총리님)
Status2nd highest in executive branch
AbbreviationPMOTROK, PMOSK
Member ofState Council
National Security Council
ResidenceChongri Gonggwan
SeatSeoul, South Korea
NominatorPolitical Parties
AppointerPresident of South Korea
(Subject to the National Assembly's approval)
Term lengthNo fixed term
At the President's pleasure
Constituting instrumentSouth Korean constitution
Inaugural holderLee Beom-seok
Formation31 July 1948 (1948-07-31)
DeputyDeputy Prime Minister of South Korea
Website(in English)
(in Korean)
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Republic of Korea
South Korea portal
Prime Minister of South Korea
Revised RomanizationGungmuchongni


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, while the president is the actual head of government, but 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 nominal cabinet of South Korea. The Prime Minister assists the President by supervising ministries, making recommendations for ministers, and serves as 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 most recent person to have served as Acting President was Hwang Kyo-ahn, during the impeachment of Park Geun-hye in 2016.

A Prime Minister that has been appointed by the President but not yet confirmed by the National Assembly is informally called 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 is supported by two deputy prime ministers. The Prime Minister of South Korea sometimes holds some professional or technological knowledge whereas the President is always a sole politician.[5]


The procedure for impeachment is set out in the 10th Constitution of South Korea in 1987. And according to Article 65 Clause 1, if the President, Prime Minister, or other state council members violate the Constitution or other laws of official duty, the National Assembly can impeach them.

Clause 2 states the impeachment bill must be proposed by one third, and approved by the majority of members of the National Assembly for passage. In the case of the President, the motion must be proposed by a majority and approved by two thirds or more of the total members of the National Assembly, meaning that 200 of 300 members of the parliament must approve the bill. This article also states that any person against whom a motion for impeachment has been passed shall be suspended from exercising his/her power until the impeachment has been adjudicated, and a decision on impeachment shall not extend further than removal from public office. However, impeachment shall not exempt the person impeached from civil or criminal liability for such violations.[6]

By the Constitutional Court Act of 1988, the Constitutional Court must make a final decision within 180 days after it receives any case for adjudication, including impeachment cases. If the respondent has already left office before the pronouncement of the decision, the case is dismissed.

Prime Minister's Office

The Prime Minister's Office consists of two organisations - Office for Government Policy Coordination and Prime Minister's Secretariat which are led by ministerial-level Minister for Government Policy Coordination and vice-ministerial-level Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister respectively.

Office for Government Policy Coordination assists the Prime Minister with:

  • various tasks, responsible for directing, adjusting and overseeing central administrative authorities underneath the Prime Minister's Office;
  • planning and adjusting key national policies;
  • managing, analyzing and assessing policies in regard to social risks, conflicts and pending problems;
  • implementing regulatory reform;
  • and doing other tasks specifically delegated by the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister's Secretariat assists the Prime Minister with:

  • activities related to the National Assembly, responsible for matters regarding collaboration between the executive branch and the majority party in the legislature;
  • providing PM with counsel on state affairs;
  • matters regarding key information and situations both domestic and international;
  • management and arbitration of civil complaints;
  • supporting and collaborating with civil groups;
  • promoting PM's activities in relation to state affairs;
  • drafting PM's remarks and statements;
  • supporting the promotion of activities by the Office for Government Policy Coordination;
  • protocols and armed escort regarding PM and receiving VIPs;
  • maintaining the official residence of PM;
  • and handling other matters as instructed by PM.


The Prime Ministers has a salary of $163,000 as set by the National Assembly along with a lifelong pension that is always given to former Prime Ministers.


The Prime Ministers residence is Chongri Gonggwan It is owned and operated by the South Korean Government and has served as the residence of the Prime Minister since the early 1990s after construction was concluded and was completed around the same time as the Presidential Blue House.

Post Prime Minister

All former Prime Ministers are given a lifelong pension and a Presidential Security Service detail but do not have to accept the protection if they so wish. Prime Ministers when they pass away usually have a state funeral so the public and government officials both past and present can pay their respects.

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.
  6. "Constitution of the Republic of Korea". Korean Laws in English. South Korean Ministry of Government Legislation. Retrieved 2018-12-26.
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