South Korea Politics and Law

Politics

According to the constitution that was adopted by referendum on October 27, 1987 and entered into force on February 25, 1988, South Korea is a presidential republic. It proclaims the peaceful and democratic reunification of Korea and the political neutrality of the armed forces as general goals.

According to carswers, the head of state and supreme owner of the executive is the president, who is directly elected for a period of 5 years (re-election not possible), who has important powers. The President (since 2017 Moon Jae In ), appoints the Prime Minister and, on his proposal, the other members of the Council of State (Cabinet) of which he is a member.

The legislature is supported by the National Assembly, a unicameral parliament whose 300 members are elected for a legislative period of 4 years (253 mandates by majority vote, 47 by proportional representation via party lists; since 2020, the right to vote from the age of 18). In the parliamentary elections on April 15, 2020, the ruling Minjoo Party (also the Democratic Party) won a three-fifths majority of the seats together with an allied small party. Above all, it benefited from the rapid containment of the pandemic in South Korea caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The government depends on the confidence of parliament. It has the right to recommend that the President dismiss the Prime Minister or individual ministers. It can also initiate the impeachment of the head of state with a two-thirds majority, which was last done on December 9, 2016 against the President Park Geun Hye happened.

Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority in parliament and an absolute majority in a referendum. The Constitutional Court (9 judges, appointed by the President for 6 years) has a. to decide on the constitutionality of laws, on conflicts between state organs and on party bans. It must also confirm the impeachment of the head of state for it to be effective.

South Korea is closely allied with the United States. That belongs to the OECD and the G20. There is a conflict with Japan over the nationality of the rocky islands Dokdo (Japanese Takeshima) in the Sea of ​​Japan.

National symbols

The national flag was first hoisted in 1883 and officially introduced on January 25, 1950. It is white and shows the red-blue mystical symbol »Taeguk« (Yin and Yang) in the middle and »Trigrams« (»kwae«) in the four corners. The individual trigrams mean: “i” (bottom left) sun, spring, east; “Came” (top right) moon, autumn, west; »Kon« (top left) sky, summer, south; »Kon« (bottom right) earth, winter, north. Together the trigrams symbolize the state and the people; the two pairs stand for the spirit of eternity and the spirit of enlightenment.

The Taeguk symbol in the coat of arms is surrounded by the yellow leaves of a hibiscus flower. It is surrounded by a circular, not completely closed, narrow white band, in the lower blue part of which is the official name of the state in Korean script.

Parties

The party system is characterized by frequent renaming, mergers and new foundations. The left-liberal Minjoo Party of Korea (also known as the Democratic Party) was founded in 2014 as the Alliance New Politics for Democracy (NPAD, today’s name since 2015). The conservative Freedom Party of Korea (LKP) emerged from the Saenuri Party in 2017 (1997–2012 Grand National Party, GNP) and merged with two other parties to form the United Future Party (MTP) in early 2020. In 2012, the Left Justice Party (JP) emerged as a split from the United Progressive Party (UPP), which was banned in 2014. The centrist-reform-oriented People’s Party (PP) was founded in 2016; In 2018 they joined forces with another party to form the Bareunmirae Party (BP).

Unions

There are two umbrella organizations: Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU; founded 1961) and Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU; founded 1995, legalized in 1999).

Military

The total strength of the conscription army (average service time around 21 months) is 625,000 soldiers, that of the paramilitary civil defense corps (reservists up to 50 years of age) around 3.1 million. 490,000 soldiers serve in the army, 65,000 in the air force and 70,000 in the navy. The Ministry of the Interior also has security forces (189,000). The United States, with which a defense alliance has existed since 1954, has around 25,000 soldiers stationed in South Korea.

Administration

South Korea is divided into 9 provinces (Do) with subdivision into districts (Gun) and cities (Si), 6 provincial cities (Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon and Ulsan) and 2 cities with special status (Seoul and Sejong).

Administrative division in South Korea

province Area (km 2) Pop. (1 000) Residents per km 2 Administrative headquarters
Seoul 1) 605 10 125 16 735
Busan 1) 768 3 513 4,575
Daegu 1) 884 2 502 2,830
Incheon 1) 1 032 3 011 2,918
Gwangju 1) 501 1 485 2 964
Daejeon 1) 540 1 520 2,814
Ulsan 1) 1 060 1 186 1 119
Gyeonggi-do 10 170 13 256 1 303 Suweon
Gangwon-do 16 866 1 567 93 Chuncheon
Chungcheongbuk-do 7 405 1 631 220 Cheongju
Chungcheongnam-do 8 192 2 181 266 Daejeon
Jeollabuk-do 8 067 1 883 233 Jeonju
Jeollallanam-do 12 252 1 928 157 Gwangju
Gyeongsangbuk-do 19 030 2,745 144 Daegu
Gyeongsangnam-do 10 533 3 456 328 Changwon
Jeju-do 1 849 679 367 Jeju
1) City with the rank of a province.

Law

As early as the Koryŏ period (918–1392) there was a written legal code that has been preserved in fragments. Until the Japanese occupation (1910), Korean law consisted almost exclusively of unwritten customary law. The new Korean legal system has received significant impulses from German law.

At the head of the judiciary is the Supreme Court (a maximum of 14 judges, appointment of the chairman for a one-time period of six years by the President in agreement with Parliament). Courts of appeal, district and family courts have been set up as courts of instance. There is also a separate military jurisdiction. The constitutional court stands outside or above the court structure.

South Korea Politics