Second Republic of Korea

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Republic of Korea

Anthem: 애국가
South Korea in green
South Korea in green
Common languagesKorean
GovernmentParliamentary republic
Prime Minister 
• 1960
Heo Jeong
• 1960–1961
Chang Myon
LegislatureNational Assembly
Historical eraCold War
• Established
19 April 1960
16 May 1961
CurrencyHwan (1953–1962)
ISO 3166 codeKR
Preceded by
Succeeded by
First Republic of Korea
Supreme Council for National Reconstruction
Today part of South Korea

The Second Republic of South Korea was the government of South Korea for eight months in 1960 and 1961. It succeeded the First Republic, and was followed by a military government under the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction. It was the only government under a parliamentary system in the history of Korea.


Proclamation of the Second Republic of Korea. From right: Chang Myon (Prime Minister), Yun Bo-seon (President), Paik Nak-jun (President of the House of Councillors) and Kwak Sang-hoon (President of the Chamber of Deputies).

The First Republic was overthrown by widespread protests known as the "April Revolution" in April 1960. After its fall, power was briefly held by an interim administration under Heo Jeong.[1] A new parliamentary election was held on 29 July 1960. The Democratic Party, which had been in the opposition during the First Republic, easily gained power and the Second Republic was established.

The Second Republic operated under a parliamentary system. This was the first and the only instance South Korea turned to a cabinet system instead of a presidential system. The legislature was bicameral, with the National Assembly as the lower house and the House of Councilors as the upper house. The president was elected by both houses of the legislature and served as head of state. Due to the numerous abuses of power by South Korea's first president, Syngman Rhee, the president's role was greatly reduced by the new constitution, to a point almost entirely ceremonial. Real power rested with the prime minister and cabinet, who were elected by the National Assembly. Yun Po Sun was elected as the President on 13 August 1960. The prime minister and head of government was Chang Myon.

Part of a series on the
History of South Korea
A Taegeuk
Prelude to Division 1919–48
Korean Provisional Government 1919–48
USAMGIK 1945–48
First Republic 1948–60
Korean War 1950–53
Rhee Syng-man government 1948–60
April Revolution 1960
First Interim acting system 1960
Second Republic 1960–61
Gwak Sang-hun acting system 1960
Second Interim acting system 1960
Baek Nak-jun acting system 1960
Yoon Bo-seon government 1960
Jang Myeon cabinet 1960–61
May 16 coup 1961
Constitutional Vacuum 1961–63
SCNR 1961–63
Revolution acting system 1963
Third Republic 1963–72
Park Jeong-hui government 1963–79
October Restoration 1972
Fourth Republic 1972–81
Assassination of Park Chung-hee 1979
Choi Kyu-ha acting system 1979
Crisis Management government 1979–80
December 12 coup 1979
May 17 coup 1980
Gwangju Uprising 1980
CNI 1980
Fifth Republic 1981–88
Jeon Doo-hwan government 1981–87
June Struggle 1987
Sixth Republic 1988–present
Roh Tae-woo government 1988–93
Civilian government 1993–98
National Moratorium 1997–2001
Nations' government 1998–2003
Participation government 2003–2008
Go Geon acting system 2004
Lee Myung-bak government 2008–2013
Park Geun-hye government 2013–2016
Impeachment of Park 2016–2017
Hwang Gyo-an acting system 2016–2017
Moon Jae-in government 2017–present
Flag of South Korea.svg South Korea portal


The Second Republic saw the end of the severe curbs on political expression that had been in place under the Rhee regime. As a result, freedom returned, and with it came an increase in political activity. Much of this activity was from leftist and student groups, which had been instrumental in the overthrow of the First Republic. Union membership and activity grew rapidly during the later months of 1960.[2] Around 2,000 demonstrations were held during the eight months of the Second Republic.[3]

Under pressure from the left, the Chang government carried out a series of purges of military and police officials who had been involved in anti-democratic activities or corruption. A Special Law to this effect was passed on 31 October 1960. [4] 40,000 people were placed under investigation; of these, more than 2,200 government officials and 4,000 police officers were purged. [5] In addition, the government considered reducing the size of the army by 100,000, although this plan was shelved.[6]


In economic terms as well, the government was faced with mounting instability. The government formulated a five-year economic plan, although it was unable to act on it prior to being overthrown.[7] The Second Republic saw the won lose half of its value against the dollar between fall 1960 and spring 1961.[8] Unemployment and wholesale prices also rose during this period.


  1. ^ Yonhap (2004, p. 270).
  2. ^ Yang (1999, p. 196); Nam (1996, pp. 410–412); Yonhap (2004, p. 270).
  3. ^ Yang (1999, p. 196). Nam (1996, p. 412) gives "2,000."
  4. ^ Nahm (1996, p. 411).
  5. ^ Nahm (1996, p. 411).
  6. ^ Nahm, loc. cit.
  7. ^ Nahm (1996, p. 412); Yonhap (2004, pp. 270–271).
  8. ^ Nahm (1996, p. 412).


  • Cumings, Bruce (1997). Korea's place in the sun. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-31681-5.
  • Lee, Ki-baek, tr. by E.W. Wagner & E.J. Shultz (1984). A new history of Korea (rev. ed.). Seoul: Ilchogak. ISBN 89-337-0204-0.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Nahm, Andrew C. (1996). Korea: A history of the Korean people (2nd ed.). Seoul: Hollym. ISBN 1-56591-070-2.
  • Yang, Sung Chul (1999). The North and South Korean political systems: A comparative analysis (rev. ed.). Seoul: Hollym. ISBN 1-56591-105-9.
  • Yonhap News Agency (2004). Korea Annual 2004. Seoul: Author. ISBN 89-7433-070-9.

Coordinates: 37°35′N 127°0′E / 37.583°N 127.000°E / 37.583; 127.000