Korean statesman. He was an early supporter of Korean independence from Japan and after a spell of imprisonment (1897–1904) for nationalist activities, he went to the USA and became President of a “government-in-exile” formed by a small group of his supporters. After World War II he returned to become leader of South Korea during the US occupation and in 1948 he became the first President of the Republic of Korea, advocating the unification of Korea both before and after the Korean War (1950–53). Rhee was re-elected in 1952 and 1956, but opposition to his corrupt and autocratic government grew more intense as economic conditions deteriorated and a third re-election in 1960 caused accusations of rigging and serious rioting, which forced Rhee into exile.
Subjects: World History — Contemporary History (Post 1945).