Louise Yim

Im Yeong-sin (Korean: 임영신, 20 November 1899 – 17 February 1977), also known by the English name Louise Yim, was a South Korean educator and politician. She was both the first female minister in South Korea, holding the post of Minister of Commerce and Industry from 1948 to 1949, and the first woman elected to the South Korean parliament, serving from 1949 to 1954.

Louise Yim
Louise Yim.png
Minister of Commerce and Industry
In office
Member of the Constituent National Assembly
In office
Member of the National Assembly
In office
Personal details
Born20 November 1899
Geumsan, Korean Empire
Died17 February 1977(1977-02-17) (aged 77)
Seoul, South Korea


Yim was born into a wealthy family of farmers in Geumsan in 1899.[1] She began organising anti-Japanese activities while at high school. After organising protests as part of the March 1st Movement in 1919, she was jailed and tortured.[2] She subsequently attended university in the United States, earning an MA in political science and theology at the University of Southern California. Returning to Korea, she worked for the Young Women's Christian Association, before becoming head of the Chung-Ang Training School for Kindergarten Teachers.[1][2]

Although the Japanese closed the school in 1944, she reopened it the following year, after which she worked to transform it into Chung-Ang University.[2] In 1945 she also founded the Korean Women's National Party. She served as a Korean representative at the United Nations from 1946 to 1948,[3] helping draft the resolution that granted South Korea independence.[1] In 1948 she was appointed Minister of Commerce and Industry by President Syngman Rhee, becoming the first female minister in a South Korean government.[1]

The following year she contested a by-election to the Constituent National Assembly in Andong, becoming the first South Korean woman elected to parliament (four woman had previously been appointed members).[4] She was re-elected to the National Assembly in 1950.[2] In 1952 she contested the vice-presidential elections,[2] finishing seventh in a field of nine candidates with 2.7% of the vote. In 1953 she was appointed president of Chung-Ang University, a role she held until 1961.[1] She lost her seat in the National Assembly in 1954,[2] but ran for the vice-presidency again in 1960, finishing last out of four candidates with less than 1% of the vote.

Yim published an autobiography, My Forty Year Fight for Korea. She died in Seoul in February 1977 at the age of 77.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Louise Yim, Seoul Legislator, Dies; Educator and Women's Leader The New York Times, 17 February 1977
  2. ^ a b c d e f James E. Hoare (2015) Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Korea p211
  3. ^ The Chung Ang University in Seoul United Nations
  4. ^ Susan Franceschet, Mona Lena Krook, Netina Tan (2018) The Palgrave Handbook of Women’s Political Rights p628