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Politics of South Korea

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Title: Politics of South Korea  
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Subject: Foreign relations of South Korea, Korea, Green Party Korea, Government of South Korea, Justice Party (South Korea)
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Politics of South Korea

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 1
    • Executive branch 1.1
    • Legislative branch 1.2
    • Judicial branch 1.3
  • Political parties and elections 2
  • Political pressure groups and leaders 3
  • Administrative divisions 4
  • International organization participation 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

National government

Executive branch

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

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

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

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 Saenuri Party(NFP), the New Politics Alliance for Democracy(NPAD, former Democratic Party), the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), and the Justice Party. The conservative Saenuri Party and the more liberal Democrats(NPAD) are the dominant forces of South Korean politics. The socialist UPP is aligned with labour unions and farmers groups. But UPP was torn into two parties after 2012 election, and 6 of 13 MPs of UPP formed the Justice Party.

  • Structure of National Assembly as of 15 August 2014.
    • Conservatives(NFP) : 158(+1)
    • Liberals(NPAD) : 130(+3)
    • Progressive(UPP, JP) : 10(-3)
    • Independents : 2(pro-NFP)
 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

 Summary of the 19 December 2012 South Korean presidential election results
Candidate Party Votes %
Park Geun-hye Saenuri Party 15,773,128 51.55
Moon Jae-in Democratic United Party 14,692,632 48.02
Kang Ji-won Independent 53,303 0.17
Kim Soon-ja Independent 46,017 0.15
Kim So-yeon Independent 16,687 0.05
Park Jong-sun Independent 12,854 0.04
Invalid/blank votes 126,838
Total 30,721,459 100
Registered voters/turnout 40,507,842 75.84
Source: National Election Commission

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

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.), nine Provinces (Do, singular and plural) and one Special Autonomous City (Sejong City).

International organization participation

WTrO, Zangger Committee


  1. ^ 
  2. ^ Number of Local seats earned by each party (in Korean), National Election Commission, Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  3. ^ Number of Block seats earned by each party (in Korean), National Election Commission, Retrieved 12 April 2012
  4. ^ Total number of votes earned for Block seats by each party (in Korean), National Election Commission, Retrieved 12 April 2012
  5. ^ Chang Se-hoon(장세훈) (April 14, 2012). "과반의석? 박근혜 긴장 늦추지 못하는 이유는" [Winning majority? Why Park Geun-hye can't be too cheerful about the election.]. 서울신문 (in Korean). Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  6. ^ News 1 (April 13, 2012). "총선 결과, 보수-진보 의석수 158 대 142, 정당 득표 997만 대 982만. 박빙 대선 레이스 예고" [Election results, conservatives vs liberals: seats 158 vs. 142, total votes 9.97mil. vs. 9.82mi. President election will be a close call.] (in Korean). JoongAng daily. Retrieved April 13, 2012. 

External links

  • World Factbook: South Korea
  • Cheong Wa Dae
  • National Assembly
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