Politics of South Korea

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Emblem of South Korea.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
South Korea

Politics of the Republic of Korea takes place in the framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President is the head of state, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature and comprises a Supreme Court, appellate courts and a Constitutional Court. Since 1948, the constitution has undergone five major revisions, each signifying a new republic. The current Sixth Republic began with the last major constitutional revision in 1987.

National government[edit]

Executive branch[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Park Geun-hye Saenuri Party 25 February 2013
Prime Minister Jung Hong-won Saenuri Party 26 February 2013

The head of state is the president, who is elected by direct popular vote for a single five-year[1] term. The president is Commander-in-Chief of the armed force of South Korea and enjoys considerable executive powers.

The president appoints the prime minister with approval of the National Assembly, as well as appointing and presiding over the State Council of chief ministers as the head of government. On 12 March 2004 the executive power of then president Roh Moo-hyun was suspended when the Assembly voted to impeach him and Prime Minister Goh Kun became an Acting President. On 14 May 2004 the Constitutional Court overturned the impeachment decision made by the Assembly and Roh was reinstated.

Legislative branch[edit]

The National Assembly (국회, 國會, gukhoe) has 300 members, elected for a four-year term, 244 members in single-seat constituencies and 56 members by proportional representation.

Judicial branch[edit]

The South Korean judiciary is independent of the other two branches. The highest judiciary body is the Supreme Court, whose justices are appointed by the president with the consent of the National Assembly. In addition, the Constitutional Court oversees questions of constitutionality. South Korea has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Political parties and elections[edit]

For other political parties see Political parties in South Korea. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in South Korea.

South Korea elects on national level a head of state – the president – and a legislature. The president is elected for a five-year term by the people. The National Assembly (Gukhoe) has 300 members, elected for a four-year term, 244 members in single-seat constituencies and 56 members by proportional representation.

The main political parties in South Korea are the Democratic United Party, the Saenuri Party, the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), and the Liberty Forward Party (LFP). The conservative Saenuri Party and the more liberal Democrats are the dominant forces of South Korean politics. The socialist UPP is aligned with labour unions and farmers groups.

e • d Summary of the 19 December 2007 South Korean presidential election results
Candidate Party Votes %
Lee Myung-bak Grand National Party 11,492,389 48.7
Chung Dong-young United New Democratic Party 6,174,681 26.1
Lee Hoi-chang Independent 3,559,963 15.1
Moon Kook-hyun Creative Korea Party 1,375,498 5.8
Kwon Young-ghil Democratic Labor Party 712,121 3.0
Lee In-je Centrist Reformists Democratic Party 160,708 0.7
Huh Kyung-young Economic Republican Party 96,756 0.4
Geum Min Korea Socialist Party 18,223 0.1
Total (turnout 63.0%) 23,732,854 100.0
Source: NEC (National Election Commission)
e • d Summary of the 11 April 2012 South Korean National Assembly election results[2][3][4][5][6]
Turnout 54.3%
Parties Local seats ± Block seats ± Constituency votes  % PR block votes  % Total seats ±
Saenuri Party (새누리당) (NFP) 1 127 -10 25 -5 9,324,911 43.3% 9,130,651 42.8% 152 -15
Democratic United Party (민주통합당) (DUP) 106 +40 21 +6 8,156,045 37.9% 7,777,123 36.5% 127 +46
Unified Progressive Party (통합진보당) (UPP) 7 +5 6 +3 1,291,306 6.0% 2,198,405 10.3% 13 +8
Liberty Forward Party (자유선진당) (LFP) 3 -11 2 -2 474,001 2.2% 690,754 3.2% 5 -13
New Progressive Party (진보신당) (NPP) 0 ±0 0 ±0 101,614 0.5% 243,065 1.1% 0 ±0
Korea Vision Party (국민생각) (KVP) 0 ±0 0 ±0 44,379 0.2% 156,241 0.7% 0 ±0
Creative Korea Party (창조한국당) (CKP) 0 -1 0 -2 3,624 0.0% 91,935 0.4% 0 -3
   Other parties 0 ±0 0 ±0 132,709 0.6% 1,043,887 5.0% 0 ±0
Independents 3 -22 2,016,737 9.4% 3 -22
Total 246 54 21,545,326 100.0% 21,332,061 100.0% 300
Conservative (NFP, LFP, KVP) 130 -21 27 -7 9,843,291 45.7% 9,977,646 46.7% 157 -28
Liberal (DUP, CKP) 106 +39 21 +4 8,159,669 37.9% 7,869,058 36.9% 127 +43
Progressive (UPP, NPP) 7 +5 6 +3 1,392,920 6.5% 2,441,470 11.4% 13 +8
Total 246 54 19,395,880 90.1% 20,288,174 95.0% 300

1 Comparison includes members elected in 2008 for the Pro-Park Coalition

Political pressure groups and leaders[edit]

  • Federation of Korean Industries
  • Federation of Korean Trade Unions
  • Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
  • Korean National Council of Churches
  • Korean Traders Association
  • Korean Veterans' Association
  • National Council of Labor Unions
  • National Democratic Alliance of Korea
  • National Federation of Farmers' Associations
  • National Federation of Student Associations

Administrative divisions[edit]

(Main article: Administrative divisions of South Korea. For historical information, see Provinces of Korea and Special cities of Korea)

One Special City (Teukbyeolsi, Capital City), six Metropolitan Cities (Gwangyeoksi, singular and plural.), nine Provinces (Do, singular and plural) and one Special Autonomous City (Sejong City).

International organization participation[edit]

AfDB, APEC, AsDB, BIS, CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA (observer), IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, ITUC, MINURSO, NAM (guest), NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMOGIP, UNOMIG, UNU, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, Zangger Committee


External links[edit]