This article analyzes the institutionalization of the presidential secretariat (PS) in Korea from 1948 to the present. The PS was poorly institutionalized from the 1940s to the 1960s, but it has rapidly expanded and differentiated since 1968. Although presidents since the democratic transition in 1987 have effectively controlled any expansion of the number of senior secretaries, the PS’s total size has continued to increase, especially during the latter part of each administration. It has undergone institutional experiments responding to changing environmental challenges. The PS has become a core institution for executive and economic policy functions since 1968, at which time its expenditures began to increase steadily, enhancing its autonomy. And, socio-cultural, welfare, and education affairs have been a particular focus of institutionalization since 1987. The PS has been highly professionalized, staffed mainly with public servants and experts rather than politicians. This has caused it to be oriented toward the long term and consistency rather than the short term and flexibility.
The original version of this article, titled “The Executive Leadership in South Korea, 1948-2010: From Charismatic to Institutional Presidency,” was presented at the Working Group VII (Leadership, Governance and Public Policy) of the Annual Conference of the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration and the 28th International Congress of Administrative Sciences, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, July 12-17, 2010.