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South Korea

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
South Korea



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Prime Minister (list)

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Supreme Court
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Presidential elections
1997 • 2002 • 2007

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2000 • 2004 • 2008

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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 1988.


Executive branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Lee Myung-bak, 이명박 Grand National Party 25 February 2008
Prime Minister Chung Un-chan, 정운찬 Grand National Party 22 September 2009

The head of state is the president, who is elected by direct popular vote for a single five-year term. Unlike the U.S. government, the president is not the commander in chief. However, the president 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. The Presidency was suspended from 12 March to 14 May 2004 while the Constitutional Court deliberated then President Roh Moo-hyun's impeachment vote in the National Assembly. The Constitutional Court eventually overturned the impeachment vote and restored Mr. Roh to the Presidency.

Legislative branch

The National Assembly (국회, 國會, gukhoe) has 299 members, elected for a four year term, 243 members in single-seat constituencies and 56 members by proportional representation.

Political parties and elections

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 (Gukhwe) has 299 members, elected for a four year term, 243 members in single-seat constituencies and 56 members by proportional representation. The main political parties in South Korea are the United Democratic Party (evolved from the Uri Party), the Grand National Party (GNP), the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), and the Democratic Party (DP). The Uri Party was formed in late 2003 from a left-leaning faction of the DP (then the Millennium Democratic Party). It gained a slim majority in the National Assembly after the April 2004 legislative elections, but lost it in subsequent by-elections. The conservative GNP and centrist DP form the dominant political opposition. The socialist DLP 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 62.9%) 23,732,854 100.0
Source: NEC (National Election Commission)
South Korea general election, 2008
Party District Proportional Total Seats +/–
Grand National Party 131 22 153 +32
United Democratic Party1 66 15 81 –80
Liberty Forward Party 14 4 18 +18
Pro-Park Coalition 6 8 14 +14
Solidarity for Pro-Park Independents2 12 12 +12
Democratic Labor Party 2 3 5 –5
Creative Korea Party 1 2 3 +3
Independents except Pro-Park 13 13 +10
Total 245 54 299

      Left       Center       Right

1Later changed to Democratic Party. 2Not registered party.
Source: NEC, A. Carr

Political pressure groups and leaders

  • 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

Judicial branch

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.

Administrative divisions

(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.), and nine Provinces (Do, singular and plural).

International organization participation

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

See also

External links



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