National Assembly (South Korea)

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National Assembly
of the Republic of Korea

대한민국 국회

Daehan-min-guk Gukhoe
19th National Assembly
Coat of arms or logo
Kang Chang-heeNFP
since 3 July 2012
Vice Speaker
Lee Byung-sukNFP
since 3 July 2012
Vice Speaker
Park Byeong-seugNPAD
since 3 July 2012
Seats 300
19th Assembly of the ROK.svg
Political groups
     Saenuri (156)
     NPAD (130)
     Progressive (6)
     Justice (5)
     Independents (3)
Parallel voting:
First-past-the-post (single member constituencies)
Party-list proportional representation (national lists)
Last election
11 April 2012
Meeting place
National Assembly Building, Seoul (37°31′55.21″N 126°54′50.66″E / 37.5320028°N 126.9140722°E / 37.5320028; 126.9140722)
National Assembly
Hangul 대한민국 국회
Revised Romanization Daehan-min-guk Gukhoe
McCune–Reischauer Taehan-min-guk Kukhoe
National Assembly
Hangul 국회
Revised Romanization Gukhoe
McCune–Reischauer Kukhoe

The National Assembly, officially the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, is the 300-member[1] unicameral legislature of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The latest legislative elections were held on 11 April 2012. Single-member constituencies comprise 246 of the assembly's seats, while the remaining 54 are allocated by proportional representation.[2] Members serve four-year terms.

The unicameral assembly consists of at least 200 members according to the Constitution. In 1990 the assembly had 299 seats, 224 of which were directly elected from single-member districts in the general elections of April 1988. Under applicable laws, the remaining seventy-five representatives were appointed by the political parties in accordance with a proportional formula based on the number of seats won in the election. By law, candidates for election to the assembly must be at least thirty years of age. As part of a political compromise in 1987, an earlier requirement that candidates have at least five years' continuous residency in the country was dropped to allow Kim Dae-jung, who had spent several years in exile in Japan and the United States during the 1980s, to return to political life. The National Assembly's term is four years. In a change from the more authoritarian Fourth Republic and Fifth Republic (1972–80 and 1980–87, respectively), under the Sixth Republic, the assembly cannot be dissolved by the president.

Current composition[edit]

Parties in the 19th Assembly of South Korea
(as of 15 Aug 2013)
Group Floor leader Seats  % of seats
Saenuri Party Lee Wan-Goo 158 (+1) 52
New Politics Alliance for Democracy Park Young-sun 130 +3 43.33
Unified Progressive Party Oh Byeong-yun 5 (-8) 1.67
Justice Party Sim Sang-jeong 5 - 1.67
Independents 2 - 0.67
Total 300 100.0


  1. Negotiation groups can be formed by 20 or more members. There are currently 2 negotiation groups in the Assembly, formed by Saenuri Party and Democratic Party.
  2. Kang Chang-hee was elected as Speaker on July 2. After his election, Kang gave up his Saenuri Party membership under the National Assembly Act, and the ruling party now occupies 152 out of the 300 seats in the legislature. Of the 283 lawmakers who participated in the election, in which Kang was the sole candidate, 195 voted for him.[3]
  3. Change in seat number since last election noted in brackets.
Parties in the 19th South Korean Assembly.png

Structure and appointment[edit]


The constitution stipulates that the assembly is presided over by a Speaker and two Deputy Speakers,[4] who are responsible for expediting the legislative process. The Speaker and Deputy Speakers are elected in a secret ballot by the members of the Assembly, and their term in office is restricted to two years.[5] The Speaker is independent of party affiliation, and the Speaker and Deputy Speakers may not simultaneously be government ministers.[5]

Negotiation groups[edit]

Parties that hold at least 20 seats in the assembly form floor negotiation groups (Korean: 교섭단체, RR: gyoseop danche), which are entitled to a variety of rights that are denied to smaller parties. These include a greater amount of state funding and participation in the leaders' summits that determine the assembly's legislative agenda.[6]

Legislative process[edit]

To introduce a bill, a legislator must present the initiative to the Speaker with the signatures of at least ten other members of the assembly. The bill must then be edited by a committee to ensure that the bill contains correct and systematic language. It can then be approved or rejected by the Assembly.[7]


Since the promulgation of the March 1988 electoral law, the assembly has been elected every four years through a Supplementary Member system, meaning that some of the members are elected from constituencies according to the system of First Past the Post, while others are elected at a national level through Proportional Representation.[8] As of 2012, 246 members represent constituencies, while 54 were elected from PR lists. In contrast to elections to the Assembly, presidential elections occur once every five years, and this has led to frequent situations of minority government and legislative deadlock.[9]

Reform proposals[edit]

A proposal to lower the number of seats required to form a negotiation group to 15 was passed on 24 July 2000, but was overturned by the Constitutional Court later that month.[10] In order to meet the quorum, the United Liberal Democrats, who then held 17 seats, arranged to "rent" three legislators from the Millennium Democratic Party. The legislators returned to the MDP after the collapse of the ULD–MDP coalition in September 2001.[11]

Legislative violence[edit]

From 2004 to 2009, the assembly gained notoriety as a frequent site for legislative violence.[12] The Assembly first came to the world's attention during a violent dispute on impeachment proceedings for then President Roh Moo-hyun,[13][14] when open physical combat took place in the assembly. Since then, it has been interrupted by periodic conflagrations, piquing the world's curiosity once again in 2009 when members battled each other with sledgehammers and fire extinguishers.[15][16][17][18] Images of the melee were broadcast around the world.


South Korean National Assembly in the 1980s
Emblem of South Korea.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
South Korea

First Republic[edit]

Elections for the assembly were held under UN supervision[19] on 10 May 1948. The First Republic of South Korea was established on 17 July 1948[20] when the constitution of the First Republic was established by the Assembly. The Assembly also had the job of electing the President, and elected anti-communist Syngman Rhee as President on 10 May 1948.

Under the first constitution, the National Assembly was unicameral. Under the second and third constitutions, the National Assembly became bicameral and consisted of the House of Commons and the Senate, but actually unicameral with the House of Commons because the House of Commons could not pass a bill to establish the Senate.

Second Republic[edit]

During the short-lived Second Republic, the National Assembly was legal and practically bicameral.

Third Republic[edit]

Since the reopen of the National Assembly in 1963 until today, it has been unicameral.

Fourth Republic[edit]

Fifth Republic[edit]

Sixth Republic[edit]

National Assembly The Majority The Minority President
Position Party/Coalition Seats won Name Tenure Position
13th (1988) Liberal PDPRDPNDRP 164 / 299 Democratic Justice Party Roh Tae-woo 1988—1993 Conservative
Conservative DJPRDPNDRP 184 / 299 Peace Democratic Party  
14th (1992) Conservative Democratic Liberal Party 149 / 299
(lack majority)
Democratic Party (1991), Unification National Party Kim Young-sam 1993—1998 Conservative
15th (1996) Liberal NCNPULDDemocrats 144 / 299 New Korea Party, United Democratic Party  
Kim Dae-jung 1998—2003 Liberal
16th (2000) Liberal MDPULDDPP 134 / 273
(lack majority)
Grand National Party  
17th (2004) Liberal Uri Party 152 / 299 Grand National Party Roh Moo-hyun 2003—2008 Liberal
18th (2008) Conservative Grand National Party 153 / 299 United Democratic Party, Liberty Forward Party,
Pro-Park Coalition
Lee Myung-bak 2008—2013 Conservative
19th (2012) Conservative Saenuri Party 152 / 300 Democratic United Party, Unified Progressive Party  
Park Geun-hye 2013— Conservative


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Article 21, Clause 1 of the Election Law
  2. ^ Kim, Tae-jong. "A Look at Election Through Numbers," Korea Times, 9 April 2008; retrieved 2013-4-2.
  3. ^ Ser, Myo-ja (3 July 2012). "Lee gives low-key speech at Assembly opening". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Article 48 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea.
  5. ^ a b Park, Young-Do (2010). "Kapitel 2: Verfassungsrecht". Einführung in das koreanische Recht [Introduction to Korean Law] (in German). Springer. p. 25. ISBN 9783642116032. 
  6. ^ Youngmi Kim (2011). The Politics of Coalition in South Korea. Taylor & Francis, p. 65.
  7. ^ Park 2010, p. 27.
  8. ^ Aurel S. Croissant, "Electoral Politics of South Korea", in Croissant et al. (2002) Electoral Politics in Southeast and East Asia. Friedrich Ebert Foundation, p. 257.
  9. ^ Croissant, p. 257.
  10. ^ Y. Kim, p. 68.
  11. ^ Y. Kim, pp. 68–9.
  12. ^ World's Most Unruly Parliaments
  13. ^ South Korean President Impeached
  14. ^ Impeachment battle
  15. ^ Democracy, South Korean-style: MPs blasted with fire extinguishers after trying to break into Parliament with hoses and sledgehammers
  16. ^ South Korea lawmakers: Reaching across the aisle with a sledgehammer
  17. ^ South Korean politicians use fire extinguishers against opposition
  18. ^ Hall of Violence
  19. ^ Setting the Stage
  20. ^ ICL – South Korea Index