Provisional Government
of the Republic of Korea
대한민국 임시정부
Motto: 대한독립만세
"Long Live Korean Independence"
Anthem: 애국가 Aegukga
"The Patriotic Song"
Government Seal
Map of the Korean Peninsula showing the government's territorial claims, controlled by Japan
Map of the Korean Peninsula showing the government's territorial claims, controlled by Japan
StatusUnrecognized, provisional
government in exile
Capital-in-exileShanghai (1919–1932)
Hangzhou (1932–1935)
Jiaxing (1935)
Nanjing (1935–1937)
Changsha (1937–1938)
Guangzhou (1938–1939)
Qijiang (1939–1940)
Chongqing (1940–1945)
Official languagesKorean
GovernmentPresidential republic
Parliamentary republic
Semi-presidential republic
• 1919–1925 (first)
Syngman Rhee[a]
• 1940–1945 (last)
Kim Ku
Prime Minister 
• 1919–1921 (first)
Yi Dong-nyeong
• 1924–1925 (last)
Park Eun-sik
LegislatureProvisional Parliament [ko]
1 March 1919
• Government formed
in Shanghai [ko]
11 April 1919
• Unified with Korean
Vladivostok [ko] and
Seoul governments [ko]
11 September 1919
• War declared against Axis
9 December 1941
27 November 1943
15 August 1945
• US military administration
in Southern Korea
8 September 1945
CurrencyKorean won
Preceded by
Succeeded by
United States Army Military Government in Korea
Today part ofChina
South Korea
North Korea
Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea
Revised RomanizationDaehanmin(-)guk Imsijeongbu
McCune–ReischauerTaehanmin'guk Imsijŏngbu

The Korean Provisional Government (KPG), formally the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea (Korean대한민국 임시정부), was a Korean government in exile based in China during the Japanese occupation of Korea.

The KPG was founded in Shanghai on 11 April 1919. A provisional constitution providing for a democratic republic named the "Republic of Korea" was enacted. It introduced a presidential system and three branches (legislative, administrative and judicial) of government. The KPG inherited the territory of the former Korean Empire. The Korean resistance movement actively supported the independence movement under the provisional government, and received economic and military support from the Kuomintang, the Soviet Union, and France.[2][3][4][5][6] After 1932, the KPG moved to a number of different cities and eventually settled in Chongqing until the end of World War II in 1945. Several of the buildings used as the headquarters of the KPG in Shanghai and Chongqing are now preserved as museums.[7]

After the surrender of Japan on 15 August 1945, the provisional government came to an end.[1][8] Its members returned to Korea, where they put together their own political organizations under the American military administration and competed for power in what would become South Korea.[1] On 15 August 1948, Syngman Rhee, who had been the first president of the Provisional Government, became the first President of the Republic of Korea.

The current South Korean government claims through the 1987-amended constitution of South Korea that there is continuity between the KPG and the current South Korean state, though this has been disputed by scholars and historians.


Main article: Korean independence movement

Between 1910 and 1945, Korea was a colony of the Empire of Japan.[9] Throughout and even before this time, dozens of groups emerged that advocated for Korean independence. However, even until the end of the colonial period, there was no single organization that pro-independence Koreans considered their sole representative.[10]

March 1st Movement

Main article: March 1st Movement

On 21 January 1919, rumors that Emperor Gojong was poisoned by the Japanese imperial family came to light.

This culminated in a demonstration that took place at the Emperor's funeral on 1 March. Among the 20 million Koreans present, 3.1 million people participated in the demonstration, about 2.20 million, 10% of the total population.[11][12][13][14] There were 7,500 deaths, 16,000 injured, and 46,000 arrested and detained. The protests, which began in March and continued until May, included 33 people who had signed the Declaration of Independence, but were in fact held by the Japanese police.

After the Japanese violently cracked down on the protests, numerous Koreans fled the peninsula, including many of the later founders of the KPG.[9]


Main article: March 1st Movement

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (June 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

The government was formed on 11 April 1919, shortly after the March 1st movement of the same year.[15][16][17] The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was founded in 1919 as part of the March 1st Movement.

The key members in its establishment included An Chang Ho and Syngman Rhee, both of whom were leaders of the Korean National Association at that time. Changho played an important part in making Shanghai the center of the liberation movement and in getting KPG operations underway. As acting premier, he helped reorganize the government from a parliamentary cabinet system to a presidential system.[18]

The independence movement's popularity grew quickly both locally and abroad. After the 1 March 1919, campaign, a plan was set up at home and abroad to continue expanding the independence movement. However, some were hesitant due to their obedience to the occupying powers. At that time, many independent activists were gathered in Shanghai. Those who set up independent temporary offices repeatedly discussed ways to find new breakthroughs in the independence movement. First, the theory of provisional government was developed, and it was generally argued that the government should organize a government in exile against the Chosun governor's office. However, it was argued that the party was not sufficiently equipped to form a government.

Shanghai was a transportation hub and also a center of support for the Guangdong government led by Wu Yuan. In addition, there were delegates from Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, which allowed them to escape the influence of Japan. For this reason, independent offices flocked to Shanghai.

Independence movements in Shanghai moved more aggressively in the summer of 1919. Seo Byeong-ho, Seung-hyung Cho, Dong-ho Cho, Park Chan-ik, and Sun Woo-hyuk met with the governments from Korea, Manchuria, the Russian Maritime Province and the Americas. Shanghai's independent offices provided accommodation for people from outside the country, centering on the French settlement, and organizing social gatherings for Koreans to create a close network. Around this time, the highly respected independent branch offices of Manchu and the Maritime provinces, such as Dongying, Lee, Shim, Kim DongSam, Shin Chae Ho, Cho Sung Hwan and Chaosang, came to Shanghai and were sent to Korea.

Paris Peace Conference

Main article: Paris Peace Conference (1919–1920)

The Shinhan Youth Party wanted a promise of independence in Korea at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference and dispatched Kim Kyu-sik as a delegate. Since his childhood, he had been studying at the Underwood Academy, where he received a Western education in English, Latin, theology, mathematics, and science. He was multilingual able to speak English, French, German, Russian, Mongolian and Sanskrit as well as Korean, Chinese and Japanese. He delivered the Korean Independence petition to President Woodrow Wilson in the name of the Shinhan Youth Party [ko], and went to Paris, France, in January 1919 to submit a petition in the name of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. However, he was not allowed to attend the Peace Conference because the provisional government had not yet been established. Kim subsequently formed a provisional government to receive the credentials of officially representing the Korean government. Kim's trip to the conference became the motivation for the 1 March Movement and the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.

The Shinhan Youth Party submitted to "Thirteen Demands" in the Paris Peace Conference

Before his departure, Kim ordered the Shinhan Youth Party members to hold an independent demonstration, saying: "Even if sent to Paris, Westerners do not know who I am. To expose and propagate Japanese rule, one must declare independence in Korea. The person to be dispatched will be sacrificed, but what happens in Korea will fulfill my mission well."[19][20]

Kim Kyu-sik communicated with the Shinhan Youth Party in Paris by radio, and they raised money for the lobbying effort. Inspired by Kim Kyu-sik's arguments, the Shinhan Young Youth Party sent people to Korea and met with national leaders such as Ham Tae-young and Cho Man-sik. Kim Kyu-sik's order for independence demonstrations was the moment when the 1 March 1919 campaign began.

Participants at the time of the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea were Kim Kyu-sik, representative of the Shinhan Youth Group, Lyuh Woon-Hyung, Cho Seong Hwan (Minister of Defense), Kim Cheol, Sun Woo Hyuk, Han Jin Kyo, Chang Deok soo, Cho Dong Ho, Seo Byung Ho and Kim In Jon. There were 30 people including Nam Hyung Woo, Shin Ik-Hee, Yi Si-yeong, Yi Dong-nyeong, Cho Wan Gu, Sin Chaeho, Jo So-ang and Kim Dae Ji. In addition, Kim Ku, Yi Dong-nyeong participated in the establishment, and Ahn Changho, Yi Dong-hwi, and Syngman Rhee were appointed between April and September 1919 and entered Shanghai. Hwang Ki-hwan became the chief secretary of the Korea provisional government's French branch.[21]

Korean Imperial Household attempt to join the KPG

See also: Roanoke College

Former empire personnel also participated in the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. Kim Gajin, who served as an observer of Hwanghae Province and Chungcheongnam-do during the reign of the empire, was a high-ranking official who was defeated in 1910 by the Japanese after being deprived of his country. He formed a secret independent organization called Daedong Dan after the 1 March Movement began in 1919, and served as governor. He was exiled to the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai, China in October 1919, and served as a provisional government adviser.

Prince Imperial Uihwa

Kim Gajin, the fifth son of Emperor Gojong of the Korean Empire and one of the prime candidates for the prince, prepared a plan to escape to the Korean Provisional Government. The Prince Imperial Uihwa sent a letter and indicated his intention to participate in the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. In November 1919, the Prince Imperial Uihwa went to Andong, Manchuria, to escape to the provisional government in Shanghai, but was arrested after being apprehended by the Japanese army and forced to return home. The contents of the book, which was sent to the Provisional Government by the King, were published in an independent newspaper article on 20 November 1919.[22][23][24][25] The current day of historians estimated the Prince Imperial Uihwa had thought of the Korean independence movement and tried to join the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea when he attended the Roanoke College in the US. The reason was Prince Imperial Uihwa's colleague was Kim Kyu-sik and he had a relationship with Kim Kyu-sik in Roanoke College.[26][27][28]

Establishment of the Provisional Council of the Republic of Korea

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On 10 April 1919, 1,000 Chinese and Shinhan Youth Party people became the main actors in the "kimshinburo(Route Pere Robert)" a French tribe in Shanghai.[clarification needed] On 11 April 1919, the National Assembly was established as the Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Korea adopted the Provisional Charter of the Republic of Korea as a democratic republic.[29] After appointing Syngman Rhee as the prime minister in charge of the administration, he appointed six ministers, including Ahn Chang-ho to the ministry of internal affairs, Kim Kyu-sik to the ministry of foreign affairs, Yi Donghwi to the ministry of defense, Yi Si-yeong to the ministry of the law, Moon Chang-bum to the ministry of the traffic and Choi Jae-hyung to the ministry of finance.[30] On 11 November, the government announced its establishment. On 22 April 1957, the second Uijeongwon [ko] was held, with representatives of the eight Korean provinces and other representatives from Russia, China, and USA present. There, they elected Yi Dong-nyeong as chairman and Sohn Jung-do as vice-chairman. The Uijeongwon had the same function as the National Assembly, such as the resolution of bills and the election of a temporary president.

Prior to this, on 17 March 1919, the Provisional Government of the Korean People's Congress was established in the Russian Maritime Province,[31] followed by the establishment of the Hanseong Provisional Government in Kyungsung on 23 April. The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai raised the issue of integration.[32] Negotiations proceeded between the Korean National Assembly and the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. Won Sehun, who was selected as representative of the National Assembly of Korea, came to Shanghai and negotiated. Both argued that the center of the government should be placed in the area, but that only the departments of the subordinate should be placed on both sides. Despite the two arguments, they were eager to establish a single government as well. Finally, on 11 September 1919, the Korean National Assembly of the Russian Maritime Province and the Hanseong Provisional Government of Gyeongseong were incorporated into the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai, China. As a result, the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was able to develop into a single unified government representing various independence movements scattered in Korea, China, and Russia, as well as domestic and foreign Koreans.[33]

Representative contents of the Provisional charter of the Republic of Korea

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Provisional charter of the Republic of Korea

Article 1, The Republic of Korea shall be a Democratic republic.

Article 2, The Republic of Korea shall be governed by the Provisional Government's resolution of the Provisional Council of the Republic of Korea.

Article 3, The people of the Republic of Korea have no class of men and women, no distinction, and no class of rich and poor, and are all equal.

Article 4, The people of the Republic of Korea enjoy the freedom of religion, press, authorship, publication, association, assembly, communication, address transfer, physical and ownership.

Article 5, Those qualified as citizens of the Republic of Korea shall have the right to vote and the right to the candidacy of eligibility for election.

Article 6, The people of the Republic of Korea have the obligation of education, tax payment, and military service.

Article 7, The Republic of Korea joins the League of Nations to exercise the spirit founded by the will of God to the world and further contribute to human culture and peace.

Article 8, The Republic of Korea gives preferential treatment to the former Korean Imperial Household.

Article 9, The abolition of the death penalty, corporal punishment, and prostitution system shall be made.

Article 10, The Provisional Government shall convene the National Assembly within one year after the restoration of the national territory.

Militant activities

Main articles: List of militant Korean independence activist groups, Korean Patriotic Organization, and Korean Liberation Army

See also: Battle of Fengwudong, Battle of Qingshanli, and Free City Incident

The government resisted the colonial rule of Korea that lasted from 1910 to 1945. The government's Military Affairs Department coordinated armed resistance such as the Northern Military Administration Office, Korean Independence Army, and the Korean Patriotic Organization against the Imperial Japanese Army during the 1920s and 1930s, including at the Battle of Samdunja, Battle of Bongoh Town in June 1920 and the Battle of Chingshanli in October 1920. However, their manpower diminished when they attempted to reorganize their forces into the Korean Independence Corps at Svobodny, Amur Oblast, Russia. The Bolsheviks believed them to be a liability to the Soviet Union during the Russian Civil War when the Japanese joined forces with the White Army and forced them disarm and join the Red Army. But they refused and the Red Army massacred them at Svobodny. Still, despite these losses, they hugely struck a blow to the Japanese military leadership in Shanghai's Hongkew Park, April 1932.

The Japanese invaded Manchuria forced members of these authorities to defect and form the National People's Prefecture under a political party and their army, the Korean Revolutionary Party and the Korean Revolutionary Army. Some however formed political parties in the provisional government such as the Korean Independence Party and the Korean National Revolutionary Party with their own armed wings. They coordinated with the Chinese Nationalist and Communist armies such as the Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army against the Japanese armies to continue their fight for independence.[34][35][better source needed]

This struggle culminated in the formation of the Korean Volunteer Army, and the Korean Liberation Army in the 1940s, bringing together all Korean resistance groups in exile.[36]

Role during World War II

Main articles: Cairo Conference and Potsdam Conference

See also: National Liberation Day of Korea

The government duly declared war against the Axis powers, Japan and Germany, on 9 December 1941, and the Liberation Army took part in Allied action in China and parts of Southeast Asia. These efforts resulted in a guarantee from China, the United States, and the British in the Cairo Conference of a liberated Korea in the future, which was reaffirmed by the Soviets, the United States, and the British in the Potsdam Conference.[37][38][39][40][41] The Soviets declared war on Japan and invaded northern Korea. The US then struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki which resulted in the surrender of Japan. The Soviets then began to strongly influence the parts of Korean they controlled.

During World War II, the Korean Liberation Army was preparing an assault against Japanese forces in Korea in conjunction with the US Office of Strategic Services. On 15 August 1945, the Japanese empire began to collapse and Korea finally gained independence a few weeks later, ending 35 years of Japanese occupation. This independence was reaffirmed in the Treaty of San Francisco. Thus, the Korean provisional government's goal of ending Japanese rule in Korea was ultimately achieved when the Japanese surrendered on 2 September 1945.

Foreign relations

Kim Kyu-sik (1890s)

In 1919, when US President Woodrow Wilson advocated for national self-determination, Rhee promoted the League of Nations mandate in the United States, and Kim Kyu-sik pushed for independence under the approval of a victorious country in Paris.[42][43] The provisional government gained approval from China and Poland through its diplomatic efforts.[44] Meanwhile, in 1944, the government received approval from the Soviet Union.[45] Jo So-ang, the head of the KPG's diplomatic department, met with the French ambassador in Chongqing and was quoted as saying that the French government would give unofficial approval to the government in April 1945.[46][44] However, the government did not gain formal recognition from the US, UK, and other world powers.[47][48] In 2019, the US Congress adopted a specific resolution that stated the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was essential to the success of Korean democracy.[49][50][51][52]

After the Liberation of Korea

Main articles: Truman Doctrine and Cold War

After the end of World War II, the US and the Soviets stationed military forces in Korea. The Soviets occupied the northern half of the Korea, declaring war on Japan, and formed the Soviet Civil Administration after the end of World War II. Similarly, the US formed the United States Army Military Government in southern part of Korea.

The leading members of Korean Provisional Government disagreed the system of trusteeship applied to the Korean Peninsula. Primarily, both sides of the political spectrum, with the left led by center-left politician Lyuh Woon-hyung and the right by center-right politician Kim Kyu-sik, disagreed with this system of trusteeship and resolved to cooperate despite having different opinions on governance.

However, the president of the US, Harry S. Truman declared the Truman Doctrine in March 1947. This doctrine accelerated what would be the Cold War and left long-lasting implications on the Korean Peninsula.[53]

Transition of power

The Korean government in exile was established to lead the independence movement on the Korean Peninsula against colonial rule. It was established on 11 April 1919, in Shanghai, China. On 11 September of the same year, it established a single government in Shanghai by integrating temporary governments such as those of Seoul and Russia's Maritime Province.

Kim Ku

The Provisional Constitution was enacted to form the Republic of Korea as a democratic republic. It introduced the presidential system and established separate legislative, administrative and judicial branches. It succeeded the territory of the Korean Empire. Interim president Rhee was impeached and succeeded by Kim Ku. Under the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, he actively supported the independence movement, including the organization of the Korean Liberation Army, and received economic and military support from China, the Soviet Union, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

After the surrender of Japan on 15 August 1945, government figures such as Kim Ku and Syngman Rhee returned to Korea. On 15 August 1948, Rhee, who had the first president of the Provisional Government, became the first President of the Republic of Korea. The current South Korean government through the national constitution revised in 1987 states that the South Korean people inherited the rule of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea,[54][55][56][57][58] though this has been criticized by some historians as constituting revisionism.[59][60][61][62][63][64]


On 11 April 2019, the Government of South Korea celebrated the 100th anniversary of the KPG in Yeouido Park. As South Korean President Moon Jae-in was then the United States, the ceremony was attended by Prime Minister of South Korea Lee Nak-yon, Speaker of the National Assembly Moon Hee-sang, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Park Han-ki. Also in attendance were the surviving members of the KPG and/or their family, as part of the Liberation Association [ko]. The "Provisional Charter of the Republic of Korea" was read during the ceremony.[65][66][67][68] South Korean actor Kang Ha-neul also read a narrative piece themed around the "Dream of the KPG". Member of the K-pop group Shinee and South Korean actor Onew performed the military musical titled "Shinheung Military Academy".[69][70][71][72]

List of presidents

Main article: List of presidents of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea

Prime ministers and presidents

Presidents of the Governance and State Council Directory

Chairmen of the State Council


See also


  1. ^ In Washington DC until 8 Dec 1920
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  49. ^ "美 의회 "대한민국 임시정부가 건국 시초" 결의안 발의".
  50. ^ "美의회 '임시정부 100주년 한국민주주의 밑거름" 결의안". 11 April 2019.
  51. ^ "美의회 "대한민국 임시정부, 韓 민주주의 성공과 번영의 토대"".
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  53. ^ "[광복 5년사 쟁점 재조명]⑫美의 한반도정책 혼선" [[Focusing on the issues during the 5 years since Korea's liberation] <Part 1> U.S. Government's Policy Confusion on Korea]. The Dong-a Ilbo (in Korean). 7 November 2004. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
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  55. ^ "미 의회 "임시정부, 한국 민주주의 성공 번영의 토대"".
  56. ^ "100년前 오늘, 대한민국이 탄생했다…국민주권 첫 선언". 10 April 2019.
  57. ^ "美의회 "임시정부 수립이 한국 민주주의 맥동·성공·번영 토대"". 11 April 2019.
  58. ^ "[팩트체크] 다시 등장한 "1948년 건국론"…확인해보니 98년 전에 작성된 1919년의 건국 통보문". 15 August 2017.
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  60. ^ Myers, Brian Reynolds (26 July 2018). "Confederation (Again)". Sthele Press. Retrieved 25 June 2019. Nor, for that matter, is the new line that the Taehan minguk was not founded in August 1948, but instead came into existence when a provisional government was formed in Shanghai in 1919. I don't need to remind anyone of the internationally accepted criteria for statehood. The Blue House seems more interested in downgrading the republic that fought the North than in making a serious case for the statehood of something else. The original modest budget for the 70th anniversary of the ROK's founding has already been cut. The joint North-South commemoration of the March 1st uprising's 100th anniversary next year is likely to make the festivities this August 15 look subdued in comparison.
  61. ^ Myers, Brian Reynolds (7 April 2019). "South Korea's Nationalist-Left Front". Sthele Press. Retrieved 25 June 2019. In closing, let me forestall reductio ad absurdum by again conceding that the left's discourse is by no means uniform. The 'radical' praises the North. The 'moderate' assails those who mistrust it. The one denies the legitimacy of the ROK founded in 1948. The other talks up the ROK-superseding legitimacy of an exile republic said to date back to 1919. But such differences are rhetorical, tactical. The point of the front after all is to appeal to all the constituencies it needs. One of them is the US government.
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  67. ^ "오늘 대한민국 임시정부 수립 100주년 기념식".
  68. ^ "[포토] 대한민국임시정부 수립 100주년 기념식". 11 April 2019.
  69. ^ "샤이니 온유·강하늘, 임시정부수립 100주년 기념식 뮤지컬 열연". 11 April 2019.
  70. ^ "강하늘·온유, '제100주년 대한민국 임시정부 수립 기념식'서 공연 펼쳐". 11 April 2019.
  71. ^ "강하늘X온유 '임시정부 100주년 기념식' 등장..감동 공연[스타이슈]".
  72. ^ "'군 복무' 강하늘·고은성·온유, '임시정부 수립 기념식' 무대 올라".

Further reading

37°32′N 126°59′E / 37.533°N 126.983°E / 37.533; 126.983