Progressive Party (South Korea, 1956)

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Progressive Party
LeaderCho Pong-am
General SecretaryYun Kil-chung
FoundedJanuary 26, 1956 (1956-01-26) (de facto)
November 10, 1956 (1956-11-10) (de jure)
DissolvedFebruary 25, 1958 (1958-02-25)
HeadquartersJongro 2-ga, Jongro-gu, South Korea
Membership (1956)around 1,500[1]
Political positionCentre-left

^ A: The Progressive Party officially advocated "social democracy," but there are also studies that deny it.
Progressive Party
Revised RomanizationJinbodang

Progressive Party (Korean진보당; Hanja進步黨; RRJinbodang; MRChinbodang) was a short-lived moderate left political party founded after the Korean War in South Korea under the leadership of Cho Bong-am.[2] It was a major political force from 1956 to 1958, and fell apart in 1959.


The Progressive Party was founded in the aftermath of the Korean War under Cho's leadership. Cho and his followers were able to build a wide coalition with the country's leftist forces. Cho also successfully created coalitions with right-wing forces opposed to Syngman Rhee's dictatorship. The party's founding and moderate success in Korea's hostile political environment is considered a large result of Bong-am's personal charisma. The Progressive Party advocated peaceful unification with North Korea, through strengthening the country's democratic forces and winning in a unified Korean election. Cho called for both anti-communist and anti-authoritarian politics, as well as advocating for social welfare policies for the peasants and urban poor.[3]

In the 1956 election, Cho ran against Rhee, the anti-communist strongman president. Cho lost with 30% of the vote, which exceeded expectations. Following the election, the Progressive Party broke apart due to factionalism.[3]

Political position[edit]

The Progressive Party officially advocated social democracy, but was regarded as a liberal party.[4] In fact, scholars in South Korea evaluated that the Progressive Party and Cho Bong-am were not German "social democracy" but an American "progressive liberalism" route, which was also reported by the Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's right-wing conservative journalist. (At that time, in South Korean politics, the term "liberal" was often used by right-wing conservative and Minjudangkye forces in a similar sense to "anti-communist".)[5]

Cho, who led the party, proposed a policy to appease North Korea, affecting the Sunshine Policy of modern South Korean liberals. At the same time, however, Cho was a strong anti-communist and a believer in liberal democracy.[6]


  1. ^ 徐·曺 兩氏 對立去益深刻 [The conflict between Seo and Jo is more intensifying]. The Kyung Hyang Press (in Chinese). 1956-08-12. Retrieved 2015-01-17 – via Naver.
  2. ^ Kim, Yunjong (2016). The Failure of Socialism in South Korea: 1945 - 2007. New York: Routledge. p. 54.
  3. ^ a b Han, Sungjoo (1974). The Failure of Democracy in South Korea. University of California Press. p. 79.
  4. ^ Lawrence S. Kaplan, ed. (2004). NATO Divided, NATO United: The Evolution of an Alliance. Praeger. p. 26. ... And when the Korean War wound down two years later, the U.S. forces became a ready target for a coalition of the liberal Progressive Party, the Communist Party, and the National Preservation Party that had won an impressive victory in ...
  5. ^ 농지개혁 주도한 조봉암은 左右 통합 추진한 실용주의자 [Cho Bong-am, who led the farmland reform, was a pragmatist who pursued the integration of the left and right]. The Chosun Ilbo. 25 April 2019. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  6. ^ Sung-Wook Nam; Sang-Woo Rhee; Myongsob Kim; Young-Ho Kim; Yong-Sub Han; Young-Soon Chung; Seong-Ok Yoo, eds. (2018). South Korea's 70-Year Endeavor for Foreign Policy, National Defense, and Unification. Springer. p. 77. ISBN 9789811319907. Cho Bong-Am also said, "When democratic spirit is translated into action, we can realize unification of Korea based on liberal democracy and enjoy freedom and independence permanently." See Cho Bong-Am, Our Immediate Tasks [in Korean] ...