Constitutional Court of Korea

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Constitutional Court of Korea
Emblem of the Constitutional Court of Korea.svg
Emblem of the Constitutional Court of Korea. The Hangul text in the centre (헌법) is the Korean word for "Constitution".
Established1988
CountryRepublic of Korea
LocationSeoul
Composition methodLegislative & executive selection
Authorized byConstitution
Judge term length6 years
No. of positions9
Websitewww.ccourt.go.kr
President
CurrentlyYoo Nam-seok
Since21 September 2018 (2018-09-21)
Constitutional Court of Korea
Logo of the Constitutional Court of Korea.svg
Korean name
Hangul
Hanja
Revised RomanizationHeonbeop Jaepanso
McCune–ReischauerHŏnpŏp Chaep'anso

The Constitutional Court of Korea (Hangul헌법재판소; Hanja憲法裁判所; RRHeonbeop Jaepanso) is an independent and specialised court in South Korea, whose primary role is the reviewing of constitutionality under the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. It also has administrative law functions such as ruling on competence disputes between governmental entities, giving final decisions on impeachments, and making judgments on the dissolution of political parties.

Status[edit]

The Constitution guarantees independent status and power of the Constitutional Court in a separate chapter apart from the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. According to separation of powers, the Court exercises its authority given by the Constitution along with the National Assembly, President and the Supreme Court, making it on a par with the other supreme institutions of the nation.

The Last Resort for Constitutional Disputes[edit]

The Constitutional Court has jurisdiction over constitutional review of statutes, constitutional complaints, competence disputes between governmental entities, impeachment of high-ranking government officials and dissolution of political parties. A decision of the Constitutional Court on the above issues binds all state agencies and local governments, and cannot be appealed.

Guardian of the Constitution[edit]

The Court protects the Constitution through legal procedures. In the course of adjudication on the constitutionality of statutes, impeachment, dissolution of a political party, competence disputes and constitutional complaints, the Court interprets and applies the Constitution to resolve constitutional disputes and prevent its violation.

Protector of the Basic Rights[edit]

The Court assures the basic rights of the people. When a basic right is infringed upon by the exercise or non-exercise of the government power, the Court declares such use of government power unconstitutional, thereby protecting the basic right. In case a statute is deemed to infringe upon the basic right, the Court rules the statute unconstitutional, invalidating it to guarantee the basic right.

Keeping Public Authorities in Check[edit]

If the legislature enacts a statute that is deemed unconstitutional, the Court declares the statute void through judgment on the constitutionality of statutes. It can decide whether to impeach high ranking officials of the Executive or Judiciary branches who have abused the public power. It can also order dissolution of a political party if the party acts against the basic order of democracy.

Composition[edit]

Nine Justices serve on the court, all of whom are appointed by the President. Three of the positions are appointed directly by the President. Of the remaining six positions, three are appointed from candidates nominated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and three are appointed from candidates elected by the National Assembly. In addition, the head of the court is chosen by the President, with the consent of the National Assembly. Justices serve renewable terms of six years, and are required to retire their posts at the age of 65, excepting the head of the Constitutional Court, who may serve until the age of 70.

Justices of the Constitutional Court are prohibited from joining political parties and engaging in political activities by Article 112(2) of the Constitution. In addition, Justices of the Constitutional Court are prohibited by law from running businesses, holding other public offices, and being otherwise employed.

Current Justices[edit]

Name Born Appointed by Recommended by Alma mater First day /
Length of service
Yoo Nam-Seok (President) May 1, 1957
(age 61)
in Mokpo
Moon Jae-in (Directly) Seoul National University November 11, 2017
1 year, 5 months
Seo Ki-Seog February 19, 1953
(age 66)
in Hamyang
Park Geun-Hye (Directly) Seoul National University April 19, 2013
5 years, 11 months
Cho Yong-Ho February 15, 1955
(age 64)
in Cheongyang
Park Geun-Hye (Directly) Konkuk University April 19, 2013
5 years, 11 months
Lee Seon-Ae January 3, 1967
(age 52)
in Seoul
Hwang Kyo-ahn Yang Sung-tae Seoul National University March 29, 2017
2 years
Lee Suk Tae April 17, 1953
(age 65)
in Seoul
Moon Jae-in Kim Myeong-soo Seoul National University September 21, 2018
6 months
Lee Eunae May 21, 1966
(age 52)
in Gwangju
Moon Jae-in Kim Myeong-soo Seoul National University September 21, 2018
6 months
Lee Jongseok February 21, 1961
(age 58)
in Gyeongbuk
Moon Jae-in the 20th National Assembly
(Liberty Korea Party)
Seoul National University October 18, 2018
5 months
Lee Youngjin July 25, 1961
(age 57)
in Chungnam
Moon Jae-in the 20th National Assembly
(Bareunmirae Party)
Sungkyunkwan University October 18, 2018
5 months
Kim Kiyoung April 9, 1968
(age 51)
in Chungnam
Moon Jae-in the 20th National Assembly
(Democratic Party of Korea)
Seoul National University October 18, 2018
5 months

Court Administration[edit]

The Court’s administrative affairs are managed and supervised by the Court Administration. The Secretary General, under the direction of the President, oversees the administrative works of the Court, directs and supervises the public employees under his or her authority, and attends National Assembly sessions or cabinet meetings to make statements on the Court’s administrative issues. The Deputy Secretary General assists the Secretary General and acts on behalf of the Secretary General if he/she is unable to perform his/her duties for reasons.

The Court Administration consists of the Planning and Coordination Office, the Administration Management Bureau, the Judgment Affairs Bureau, the Information and Materials Bureau and the Executive Director of Public Information Office. Planning and Coordination Office is responsible for establishing major plans, budgeting and accounting, assessing and auditing works, enacting and revising the Court rules and coordinating international relations and exchanges. Administration Management Bureau is responsible for events, protocol, courthouse security, facility management, procurement, expenditure, HR and training, newly building and extension of courthouse and facility maintenance. Judgment Affairs Bureau is responsible for processing cases filed to the Court, civil service and release of information to the public, improvement or development of the constitutional adjudication system and preservation and management of archives. Information and Materials Bureau compiles and publishes materials regarding constitutional adjudication, oversees IT projects and runs the library. Executive Director of Public Information Office produces and distributes news releases, provides information on significant cases and events, generates promotional materials and operates a courthouse tour program.

Rapporteur Judges[edit]

The rapporteur judges may serve renewable terms of 10 years and shall retire at the age of 60. A newly appointed rapporteur judge shall serve assistant rapporteur judgeship for three years as a special public official before being appointed as a rapporteur judge in consideration of their performance during the period. The rapporteur judges are divided into two groups. One consists of those who are assigned to Justices and are responsible for preliminary review of constitutional complaints and also cases allocated to the full bench. The other is composed of those not assigned to Justices and are separated into sub-groups of specialized fields.

Jurisdiction[edit]

Adjudication on the constitutionality of statutes[edit]

This is a system that nullifies any statute that has been found unconstitutional by the Court. It is a core component of constitutional adjudication, by providing a mechanism to protect the Constitution against arbitrary legislation.

Constitutional Complaint[edit]

A constitutional complaint is a system where anyone whose basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution have been infringed upon by public authorities may seek relief by filing a complaint to the Constitutional Court. Both natural person and juridical person may lodge a constitutional complaint. While in other adjudications of the Court jurisdiction, the National Assembly, Administration, ordinary courts or local governments are the claimants, an individual becomes the claimant in a constitutional complaint to pursue a direct remedy for basic rights infringement. Therefore, it is one of the key mechanisms to assure basic rights. With the introduction of the constitutional complaint, democracy took an important step forward, and it also has contributed to promoting constitutional adjudications.

Adjudication on Competence Dispute[edit]

When conflicts arise between state and local governments and agencies about the duties and authorities of each institution, it not only endangers the principle of checks and balances between public powers, but also risks paralyzing an important government function. As this may pose a threat to the basic rights of citizens, a systematic coordinating mechanism is required. The Constitution of Korea empowered the Constitutional Court to judge on conflicts between national institutions and local governments regarding competence and scope thereof, as part of a function to safeguard the Constitution.

Adjudication on impeachment[edit]

High ranking officials of the administration or judiciary, who are not subject to prosecution or disciplinary action under the general legal system, may be subject to impeachment adjudication. The National Assembly passes a motion for impeachment when officials whose status are guaranteed by statute are found to have committed a grave crime while performing their official duties, and the following impeachment decision removes the person(s) from office. This system protects the Constitution from being violated by such high ranking officials.

Adjudication on dissolution of a political party[edit]

A political party exercises great influence on the people’s forming political will and intention. If its objectives and activities run counter to the basic order of democracy specified in the Constitution, the political party should be dissolved. This jurisdiction is assigned to the Constitutional Court to protect the Constitution as well as protect political parties from arbitrary decisions of the Executive.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°34′41″N 126°59′05″E / 37.5780°N 126.9847°E / 37.5780; 126.9847