The Republic of Korea's (ROK) first constitution was adopted on 17 July 1948. Through repeated revisions, power remained concentrated in the hands of the president until the most recent revision, adopted by 93.1% of the vote in a popular referendum on 28 October 1987. Under the new constitution, which took effect in February 1988, the president is elected by direct popular vote, rather than indirectly as before, for a single term of five years. There are also a prime minister and two deputy prime ministers, who head the State Council (the cabinet). Roh Moo Hyun was elected president on 19 December 2002 for a five-year term beginning on 25 February 2003.
The government of South Korea is divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. The executive and judicial branches operate primarily at the national level, although various ministries in the executive branch also carry out local functions. Local governments are semi-autonomous, and contain executive and legislative bodies of their own. The judicial branch operates at both the national and local levels.
The South Korean government's structure is determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Korea (ROK). This document has been revised several times since its first promulgation in 1948. However, it has retained many broad characteristics; with the exception of the short-lived Second Republic of South Korea, the country has always had a presidential system with a relatively independent chief executive.
The South Korean legislature is the unicameral National Assembly (Kuk Hoe). It has 273 seats; 227 are filled by direct election, while the remaining 46 are filled proportionally. During the first four decades of South Korea, the National Assembly had little authority. The 1987 constitution strengthened the National Assembly, giving it power to audit government activities and removing the president's power to dissolve the Assembly. Suffrage is universal at age 20.
As with most stable three-branch systems, a careful system of checks and balances is in place. For instance, the judges of the Constitutional Court are partially appointed by the executive, and partially by the legislature. Likewise, when a resolution of impeachment is passed by the legislature, it is sent to the judiciary for a final decision.
Country name :
conventional long form: Republic of Korea
conventional short form: South Korea
local long form: Taehan-min'guk
local short form: Han'guk
Government type :
geographic coordinates: 37 34 N, 127 00 E
time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions :
9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 7 metropolitan cities (gwangyoksi, singular and plural)
provinces: Cheju-do, Cholla-bukto (North Cholla), Cholla-namdo (South Cholla), Ch'ungch'ong-bukto (North Ch'ungch'ong), Ch'ungch'ong-namdo (South Ch'ungch'ong), Kangwon-do, Kyonggi-do, Kyongsang-bukto (North Kyongsang), Kyongsang-namdo (South Kyongsang)
metropolitan cities: Inch'on-gwangyoksi (Inch'on), Kwangju-gwangyoksi (Kwangju), Pusan-gwangyoksi (Pusan), Soul-t'ukpyolsi (Seoul), Taegu-gwangyoksi (Taegu), Taejon-gwangyoksi (Taejon), Ulsan-gwangyoksi (Ulsan)
15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holiday :
Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)
29 October 1987
Legal system :
combines elements of continental European civil law systems, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought
19 years of age; universal
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