Presidential records issues and records innovation reversed

Sangmin Lee (RIM Research Centre, Fawoo Technology, Bucheon, South Korea)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Publication date: 2 October 2009



This paper considers the sometimes serious and controversial political, legal, institutional and technological issues that were triggered by the mass transfer and copying of electronic presidential records by the Sixteenth President of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) at the end of his term of office.


During this administration, the Korean government made significant government‐wide recordkeeping innovations, mainly initiated and supported by the then President Roh Moo Hyun, and also supported by civilian professionals. The Public Records Management Act (PRMA) was revised, the Presidential Records Act (PRA) legislated and the National Archives of Korea tripled in staff size and made significant government records innovations. At the end of his term, the President copied all of his presidential records in electronic form and kept them for his own use, transferring the “authenticated” records to the National Archives. The National Archives subsequently charged his former secretaries with violation of the Presidential Records Act.


The paper summarizes the records issues to give further consideration to electronic records matters as well as dealing with politically sensitive records in the public archives. Can recordkeeping and politics be divorced? If so, how?


The paper provides insight into the political dimension of recordkeeping in the public, government context in Korea.



Lee, S. (2009), "Presidential records issues and records innovation reversed", Records Management Journal, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 165-172.

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