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Public Administration

Organization for the management of state affairs

Formative Period for the Management of State Affairs: First and Second Republics
 
(1) Changing Size of Organization
Upon its establishment in 1948, the republican government of Korea initially consisted of 11 ministries and departments. Three organizations were placed under the direct supervision of the President: the Higher Civil Service Examination Committee, the Inspection Board, and the Imperial Property Bureau. Four organizations reported to the Prime Minister: the Ministry of Government Administration (MGA), the Office of Public Affairs (OPA), the Office of Legislation (OL), and the Office of Planning (OP) (MGAHA, 1998). The number of units comprising the central government increased from 14 in the First Republic to 17 in the Second Republic (MGAHA, 1998). The First Republic solidified the presidential system as the central feature of governance in Korea; it created the position of Vice President and placed the Prime Minister, his office, and other affiliated organizations under the President’s authority. Accordingly, the MGA, the OL, and the OP that had formerly reported to the Prime Minister were merged into the State Council Secretariat (SCS), which reported to the President. Although the Second Republic attempted to replace the presidential system with a parliamentary one that was centered on the Cabinet, which was headed by the Prime Minister, the organizational structure for the management of state affairs remained more or less intact, except for the addition of the Public Security Commission and the Inspection Board to the SCS.
 

The organizational structure for managing state affairs in the first two Republics was perfunctory in nature, as it was ultimately a government head, be it the President or the Prime Minister, who made the final decisions. The lower-level organization supporting the management of state affairs was also merged with the SCS in the later years to ensure better management and control of state affairs.
 
(2) Changing Structure of Organization
Interestingly, the Korean government in its formative period relied on numerous committees, granting them the powers of inspection and public announcement. The decision to form such committees seems to have been geared toward minimizing frictions among different political and ideological factions in the turbulent years following the introduction of modern politics into Korea. As the presidential system gained greater force and authority in the later years of the First Republic, however, the Inspection Board and the Accounting Office, originally structured as committees, were transformed into tighter organizations headed by individuals loyal to the President who actively aided him in his efforts to garner more control over state affairs (Seo, 1985). The administrative bodies for personnel, planning, and legislation were also integrated into the SCS later in an attempt to enhance the top-down control of state affairs. The Second Republic re-converted the Inspection Board, the Public Security Committee, and other such bodies into independent organizations so that they might better reflect the diversity of larger society. In the Second Republic, a committee structure was adapted again, while the supporting organization remained integrated and unified.
 
(3) Changing Functions of Organization
The overall organizational structure for managing state affairs was originally conceived principally for the purpose of assisting the President in his governance and related activities. Accordingly, the organizational structure was operated on the basis of mutual trust between the President and government officials who heeded the President’s personal instructions and orders. As such, only a few units of the overall organization—i.e., those overseeing inspection, public security, personnel, planning, and legislation—had official and independent tasks, while the rest of the organization was dependent on orders given by the President, the Prime Minister, and relevant Cabinet ministers. While the Prime Minister was initially able to exercise some authority over certain units of the government overseeing core functions—i.e., personnel, budgeting, planning, and legislation—the introduction of the vice presidency and the parliamentary system ultimately led to the unification of the units under the Prime Minister’s charge. The monolithic and rather informal nature of the Korean government organization excessively dependent upon the wishes and commands of the President and on information gathered by public security and inspection organizations took root during the years of the First and Second Republics.
 

Source: Korea Institute of Public Administration. 2008. Korean Public Administration, 1948-2008, Edited by Korea Institute of Public Administration. Pajubookcity: Bobmunsa.