The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Politics of South Korea



South Korea is a republic with powers shared between the President of South Korea and the legislature called the National Assembly. The president is chief of state and is elected for a term of 5 years. He appoints a Prime Minister who runs the government as directed by him. The 299 members of the unicameral National Assembly are elected to 4-year terms. South Korea's judicial system comprises a Supreme Court, appellate courts, and a Constitutional Court. The country has nine provinces and six administratively separate cities--Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Gwangju, and Daejeon.

Country name

  • conventional long form: Republic of Korea
  • conventional short form: South Korea
  • local long form: Daehan Minguk (Hangul: 대한 민국; Hanja: 大韓民國)
  • local short form: Hanguk (Hangul: 한국; Hanja: 韓國)

note: the South Koreans generally use the term "Han-guk" to refer to their country

  • abbreviation: ROK

Data code


Government type




Administrative divisions

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

1 Special City (Teukbyeolsi), 6 Metropolitan Cities (Gwangyeoksi, singular and plural), and 9 Provinces (Do, singular and plural).


August 15, 1945, date of liberation from Japanese colonial rule

National holiday

Liberation Day, August 15 (1945)


February 25, 1988

Legal system

combines elements of continental European civil law systems, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought


20 years of age; universal

Executive branch

  • Chief of State: President of South Korea Roh Moo-hyun (since 25 February 2003) (suspended from March 12 to May 14, 2004 while the Constitutional Court deliberated Roh's impeachment vote in the National Assembly.)
  • Head of government: Prime Minister Lee Hai-Chan
  • Cabinet: State Council appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation
  • Elections: president elected by popular vote for a single five-year term; election last held 19 December 2002 (next to be held in mid-December 2007); prime minister appointed by the president; deputy prime ministers appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation
  • Election results: Roh Moo-hyun elected president; percent of vote - Roh Moo-hyun (MDP) 48.9%, Lee Hoi-chang (GNP) 46.6%, Kwon Young-ghil (DLP) 3.9%

Legislative branch

  • Legislative body: nnicameral National Assembly or Gukhoe(국회, 國會) (299 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
  • Elections: last held 15 April 2004
  • Election results: seats by party - Uri Party 152 GNP 121, KDLP 10, MDP 9, ULD 4, Independents and others 3 (See South Korean parliamentary election, 2004)

Judicial branch

  • Supreme Court:
    • Justices are appointed by the president subject to the consent of the National Assembly

Political parties and leaders

Note: Subsequent to the legislative election of April 1996 the following parties disbanded - New Korea Party or NKP and Democratic Party or DP. On 20 January 2000, the National Congress for New Politics or NCNP was renamed the Millennium Democratic Party or MDP. In September 2003 members of the MDP left that party to form the Uri Party. Before the April 2004 election, the GNP had 146 seats, the MDP 62 seats, the Uri Party 47 seats and the ULD 5 seats in the 273-seat Assembly. Two seats were vacant and there were 10 independents.

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

International organization participation

AfDB, APEC, AsDB, BIS, CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA (observer), IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, 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

Flag description

The flag of South Korea is white with a red (top) and blue yin-yang symbol in the center; there is a different black trigram from the ancient I Ching (Book of Changes) in each corner of the white field.

See also

External links

Last updated: 05-14-2005 06:36:11
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04