2. South Korea forms government, Syngman Rhee becomes first president on Aug. 15, 1948
All of these pivotal moments in national history took place over 90 days. Some call the pace at which these developments unfolded a “miracle.” Decision makers were responsible for daunting tasks, such as determining the official name of the state and which political system, either presidential or parliamentary, should be adopted.
Three months were far short of the required time to settle critical issues. It was Rhee’s strong resolve that made such a rapid pace possible.
On Aug.15, ceremonies marking the inauguration of the Republic of Korea were held at the now-dismantled capitol building in central Seoul with the first President Rhee and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander for the Allied Powers, in attendance. The inauguration of Korea also marked the third anniversary of independence from the 36-year Japanese colonial rule. Events marking the meaningful day took place throughout the country.
But not everyone was happy about the inauguration. Flyers opposing the formation of the South-only government were distributed nationwide.
Discord between the Rhee government and a faction led by Kim Koo continued well past the inauguration. Less than a year after the inauguration, Kim, a revered independence fighter against Japanese colonial rule, was assassinated by an Army official on June 26, 1949.
By Bae Young-dae, Kang Jin-kyu [email@example.com]
*Ko Ji-hoon, a researcher at the National Institute of Korean History, contributed to the article.