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Development Overview
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Public Administration

Organization for the Management of State Affairs

Transition Period for the Management of State Affairs: Third through Sixth Republics
                 
(1) Changing Size of Organization
The ministries and departments that comprised the Korean central government multiplied rapidly during this period. In particular, the number of ministries and departments, which stood at 22 at the end of the Second Republic, increased to 29 in the Third Republic; while the number of organizations for managing state affairs overseen by the President and the Prime Minister increased from five to 17. As the presidential system became an integral feature of governance in Korea, the divide between the organizations under the President’s supervision and those under the Prime Minister’s also grew unbridgeable, with the number of the latter-type organizations gradually increasing. Over time, presidential control over the organizational structure for directing state affairs—including the security, intelligence, and inspection areas—became entrenched, while prime ministerial control extended beyond the supporting organizational structure to include aspects of administrative reforms, general accounting, legislation, public relations, and so forth.

Whereas there were only 100 or so government officials and employees reporting to the Prime Minister at the beginning of the Third Republic, that figure rapidly multiplied to 1,382 by the end of the Sixth Republic. The number of people working in the Presidential Secretariat similarly increased from 48 at the end of the Second Republic to 366 at the end of the Sixth Republic. The number of people working in the Administrative Coordination Office, a key part of the Prime Minister’s organization, also increased from 33 to 122 (Table 1-4). This dramatic increase in staff size mostly occurred in the Third Republic and remained more or less intact throughout the Fifth and Sixth Republics. A closer look reveals that the number of staff members working under the President grew at a much more rapid pace than the number of those working for the Prime Minister, suggesting that the Prime Minister’s role in the Korean government was relatively minor and secondary in comparison to the President’s. Ministers without portfolios who were mostly tasked with assisting the President in state affairs remained under the President’s supervision throughout the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Republics, but in the Sixth Republic were given the new title of “ministers of political affairs” and placed under the supervision of the Prime Minister.
 
(2) Changing Structure of Organization
During the transition period, the organizational structure for managing state affairs in Korea grew all the more reliant on the strong leadership and command of the President, giving short shrift to the importance of the many committees semi-independently organizing, overseeing, and managing such affairs. The organization gained a more formal structure when the Presidential Secretariat and Security Services became official and key units. With the creation of the Administrative Coordination Office under the Prime Minister’s supervision in the Fourth Republic, the Prime Minister gained greater control over policymaking and coordination. While certain new committees, such as the Economic Science Council and the National Security Council, were created and placed under presidential supervision, they remained largely perfunctory and insubstantial, and served more to justify the decisions the President had already made than as bodies that would shape and influence his decision-making.
 
(3) Changing Functions of Organization
It was during this transition period that many functions and aspects of state affairs came to acquire formal status and authority. Prominent among these were the Presidential Secretariat and Security Services. The Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI), the Korea Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), and other such components of the organization for directing state affairs remained solidly under the President’s supervision, thus playing a crucial role in buttressing and enhancing presidential power. Components of the organizational structure, such as the general accounting and legislation units, nominally remained under the Prime Minister’s supervision. Yet the fact that they were regarded as central administrative agencies limited the extent of the Prime Minister’s control over them. To this day in Korea, it is the President that overwhelmingly directs state affairs, while the Prime Minister exercises only perfunctory power, mostly upon the President’s specific orders or instructions. The President continues to decide and shape policy agendas almost on his or her own, with no genuine or substantial debates taking place among the President, the Prime Minister, Cabinet members, and other interest groups. The organization for managing state affairs in Korea still remains largely undemocratic and excessively dependent on information supplied by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and other such bodies. Some components of the organization supporting the management of state affairs have taken on the forms of independent ministries and departments that report directly to the President, not the Prime Minister.

 

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