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The intergovernmental relations for sustainable developments of Korea

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Jung, Youngduck

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Graduate School of Public Administration, Seoul National University
Korean Journal of Policy Studies, Vol.11, pp. 13-29
Korea is again entering an era of local autonomy. After General Park Chung Hee
seized power through a military coup in 1961, Korean local governments did not have
substantial political and administrative decision-making power for 30 years. During an
earlier period of the Republic, under the 'Local Autonomy Law' of 1949, Korean local
governments had been locally formed policy-making assemblies whose members were
locally elected by the inhabitants. For some time in that period even the chief
executives of the local governments were elected by the area residents. In 1961,
however, the military governments adopted the so-called 'Law Concerning Temporary
Measures for Local Autonomy', which suspended the functions of all local assemblies,
and the administrative heads of local units became appointive. Following that decision,
local governing functions were controlled by the Ministry of Home Affairs- and the
respective provincial governors who were appointed by the President. There was,
therefore, essentially no political decentralization at all in Korea from 1961 to 1991
(Jung, 1987: 526). In 1991, however, the local assemblies were reorganized. In addition
to the locally formed assemblies, the chief executives of local governments were elected
directly by residents in 1995. These direct elections have enabled the Korean local
governments regain their nominal political decision-making power. In practical terms,
however, there still remain a substantial number of central controls in the central-local
government relationship.
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