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Society systems

Politics

The government of the Republic of Korea was launched on August 15, 1948. Three months earlier, the first members (198) of the National Assembly had been elected in the country’s first general election held under UN supervision. On July 17 of the same year, the first National Assembly promulgated the Constitution. Its members elected Rhee Syngman as the first President on July 20. Rhee Syngman was widely known both in and out of the country as a leader of the country’s independence movement. The 3rd UN General Assembly held in Paris in December of that year passed a resolution that the government established in the south of the 38th parallel was the only legitimate government on the Korean Peninsula.

Constitution

The country’s Constitution was promulgated on July 17, 1948 after a month and half of work for its enactment. The government observes it as a national holiday. The first amendment to the Constitution was made in July 1952, while the 9th and last amendment was passed by referendum on October 27, 1987. The country’s Constitution adopts liberal democracy as the basic principle of governance. The Constitution guarantees the people’s freedom and rights under various laws. It also guarantees equal opportunities in all sectors, including politics, economy, society and culture, and recognizes the necessity of establishing a welfare state.
The Constitution also stipulates that all people have the obligation to pay taxes, engage in national defense, educate their children, and work. The Constitution states that the country should endeavor to maintain international peace. It stipulates that international treaties signed by the country and generally accepted international laws have the same effects as domestic laws. Under the Constitution, the status of aliens is guaranteed in accordance with international laws and treaties.

Executive, Legislative, and the Judiciary

The National Assembly is an institution that represents the people’s opinions. All the laws of the country are made by the National Assembly. At present, the National Assembly has 300 fixed member, each of whom is elected for a term of four years. The National Assembly is composed of 246 members elected in local constituencies and 54 members elected by political parties for the purpose of proportional representation. The latter are meant for vocational representation. The first National Assembly was launched in May 31, 1948. The 20th National Assembly was formed through the general elections on April 13, 2016. The National Assembly building is located in Yeouido near the Hangang River that flows through Seoul. The National Assembly is composed of 253 members elected in local constituencies and 47 members elected through proportional representation. The latter are meant as a means of bringing persons with specific professional expertise into the assembly. As of June 2018, the ruling party is the Democratic Party of Korea, due to its plurality in the legislature. The leading opposition party is the Liberty Korea Party. The executive right of the government is exercised by the Executive Branch headed by the President. At present, the President is elected through a direct election for a term of five years. Under the Constitution, the President cannot be reelected for a second term. President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10, 2017, after winning the presidential election held the previous day. The Cabinet Meeting, in which the President and the Prime Minister serve as the Chair and the Vice Chair, respectively, deliberates on important policies under the rights accorded to the Executive Branch of the government. In the absence of the President, the Prime Minister controls the ministries of the government on his/her behalf. As of June 2018, the Executive Branch of the government operates 23 ministries, 17 administrative authorities, 2 boards, 4 offices, and 6 committees. The Judiciary Branch of the government is composed of the Supreme Court, appellate courts, district courts, family courts, administrative courts, and the patent court among others. The Supreme Court Chief Justice is appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly, and other Supreme Court justices are appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Chief Justice. The term for the Chief Justice and justices is six years.

Independent Organizations

Besides the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary Branches of the government, a number of other agencies carry out their respective independent functions. The Constitutional Court has the right to review whether a specific law is unconstitutional, to judge an appeal for the impeachment of a high-ranking official, and decide on the disbandment of a political party under the Constitution. The Constitutional Court is composed of three judges appointed by the President, three judges appointed by the National Assembly, and three judges appointed by the Supreme Court Chief Justice. The President of the Constitutional Court is appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly. The National Election Commission handles matters associated with elections, fair management of referendums, political parties, and political funds. A member of the commission is not allowed to join a specific political party or engage in political activities. Their term is six years. The chairman is elected from among the members. The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) performs the role of respecting and realizing the dignity and values of human beings as sovereign individuals by protecting and promoting their basic rights. The commission was launched in November 2001 in light of the people’s earnest desire for improvement of the country’s human rights conditions expressed during the democratization process. The commission also handles cases concerning human rights infringement or discrimination involving a foreigner residing or working in the country

Local Government

The country adopted the local autonomous system in June 1995. The Local Autonomy Act was enacted in 1949, but local autonomy was not implemented during the period of political upheaval, including the Korean War, the April 1960 Student Revolution, the May 1961 Coup d’état. Local governments are divided into high-level and low-level local governments. With the inclusion of Sejong Special Autonomous City in July 2012, the number of high-level local governments was increased to seventeen (i.e. Seoul Special City, six metropolises, eight provinces, and Jeju Special Self-Governing Province). The number of low-level local authorities stands at 226 (75 cities, 82 counties, and 69 districts). The heads of local governments and councilors are elected through direct election. The term for local government heads is four years, and they can be reelected for up to three terms. There is no limit on how many terms a local councilor may serve. The local autonomous system is very significant as a means of realizing the goal of grassroots democracy through local residents’ participation.

Territory

The Korean Peninsula (lat. 33˚ - 43˚; long. 124˚ - 132˚) lies in the middle of Northeast Asia, flanked by China to its west and Japan to its east. The peninsula is 950km long longitudinally and 540km wide latitudinally. The total area of South Korea is 100,364 ㎢. Excluding the northern end, which is joined to the Asian continent, the peninsula is surrounded by water on three sides, with flat land and mountains accounting for 30% and 70% of the entire territory, respectively. Mountains over 1,000m above sea level make up only 15% of the mountainous areas, while mountains lower than 500m account for 65%. The Taebaeksan Mountain Range forms the backbone of the peninsula, with the eastern part of the range rising higher than the western part. Rivers, both small and large, originate from the high mountainous areas in the east and flow toward the West and South Seas, forming plains suitable for grain cultivation.
The climate created by the mountainous areas in the east has an impact on people’s lives. The easterly wind’s passage across the mountainous areas is subject to the Foehn effect, creating a warm and dry wind in the western downwind side of the mountain range. People living in the areas to the east of the high mountains experience considerable inconveniences with regard to transportation, as these areas have undergone very little development compared to the area to the west of the high mountains. However, the slow pace of development has brought at least one advantage to local residents: the natural sceneries have remained unspoilt and many people now choose these areas as travel destinations. The East Sea has a relatively straight, featureless coastline, and the difference between high and low tide is only 30cm. However, the sea along the coast is generally deeper than 1,000m. According to the result of a sonar measurement carried out by the Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Administration, the deepest part of the East Sea lies in the area north of Ulleungdo Island (2,985m deep). In contrast, the sea along the West Sea is shallow, which has led to the formation of wide tidal flats.

Source: Korean Culture and Information Service 'Facts about Korea'

ReplyPlease leave a comment about any information you wanted to add!
Diana Gabaldon
3 months ago

As for the level of security in Korea, it is a relatively safe country. For example, you'll be able to find women wandering around at night drunk, and also ppl leave laptops, bags, cell phones, and belongings on the table in libraries or cafe. And also Korea is relatively relieved of various extremist terrorism. In addition, it's illegal to carry guns, and CCTVs are installed here and there. So to sum up, Korea is a safe country to travel.

Diana Gabaldon
3 months ago

#history of medical insurance The implementation of medical insurance in Korea dates back to the enactment of the Health Insurance Act on December 6, 1963, but it was implemented in 1968 as part of the 4th Five-Year Economic Development Plan in 1977, when it was implemented for more than 500 workers. In 1979, government officials, private school faculty members, and more than 300 workers were included in the list, and gradually expanded the scope to five or more workplaces in 1988. In addition, medical insurance in rural areas was implemented in this year, and medical insurance in urban areas was implemented in 1989, achieving national medical insurance. In addition, oriental medical insurance was implemented in 1987 and pharmacy medical insurance in 1989.

Carl Ivan Setias
3 months ago

Career civil servants and contract civil servants, with the exception of political appointees and elected officials comprise the civil service. Contract servants typically receive higher wages for specific jobs. Career civil servants make up the bulk of the civil service, arranged in a nine-tiered system in which assistant ministers occupy grade one and the newest and lowest-level employees grade nine. A combination of seniority, training, and performance review determines promotions. Civil servants' base salary makes up less than half of their annual pay; a complex system of bonuses determines the remainder. Contract civil servants receive pay based on competitive rates of pay in the private sector.

Carl Ivan Setias
3 months ago

More than 800,000 civil servants work in South Korea today, half employed by the central government while local governments employ only about 300,000. With on a few thousand employed by the national legislative and judicial branches, the various ministries of the executive branch employ the overwhelming majority. The size of the civil service increased steadily from the 1950s to the late 1990s, but has dropped slightly since 1995.

Carl Ivan Setias
3 months ago

Below the Supreme Court come appellate courts, stationed in five of the country's major cities. Appellate courts typically consist of a panel of three judges. District courts, which exist in most of the large cities of South Korea, come below those followed by branch and municipal courts, positioned all over the country and limited to small claims and petty offenses. Specialized courts hear family, administrative, and patent cases. The national judiciary adjudicate all courts; the Constitution prohibits independent courts. Judges throughout the system must pass a rigorous training system including a two-year program and two-year apprenticeship. The Judicial Research and Training Institute conducts all judicial training; only those who have passed the National Judicial Examination may receive appointments. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has the power over all court administration, and can recommend court-related legislation to the National Assembly.

Carl Ivan Setias
3 months ago

The Constitutional Court conducts constitutional review and rules on cases of impeachment. The Supreme Court oversees other judicial matters, the final court of appeal for all cases in South Korean law. The Supreme Court, seated in Seoul, consists of 14 Justices, including one Chief Justice. The Justices must be 40 years or older, and have at least 15 years of experience practicing law. The Constitution restricts the Chief Justice to one term while the other justices may receive multiple appointments.

Carl Ivan Setias
3 months ago

At the national level, the legislative branch consists of the National Assembly of South Korea. A unicameral legislature, a single large assembly of 273 members. Single-member constituencies elect most the legislatures, although 46 are elected through proportional representation. The members of the National Assembly serve for four years. In the event that a member becomes unable to complete his or her term, by-election replaces them. The Constitution charges the National Assembly with deliberating and passing legislation, auditing the budget and administrative procedures, ratifying treaties, and approving state appointments. The National Assembly also has the power to impeach or recommend the removal of high officials.

Carl Ivan Setias
3 months ago

Several offices report directly to the Prime Minister, including the Government Information Agency and the Fair Trade Commission. In addition, the following agencies report jointly to the Prime Minister and the head of their associated ministry: National Tax Service National Statistical Office Supreme Public Prosecutor Military Manpower Administration National Police Agency Korea Meteorological Administration Cultural Properties Administration Rural Development Administration Korea Forest Service Small and Medium Business Administration Korean Intellectual Property Office Korea Food and Drug Administration National Maritime Police Agency Korean National Youth Commission

Carl Ivan Setias
3 months ago

The following agencies report directly to the President: National Security Council Advisory Council on Democratic and Peaceful Unification Presidential Council on Science and Technology Presidential Commission on Small and Medium Business Civil Service Commission Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths Board of Audit and Inspection—the chairperson of this board, charged with general administrative oversight, must be approved by the National Assembly. National Intelligence Service

Carl Ivan Setias
3 months ago

continuation... Ministry of Information and Communication (정보통신부, 情報通信部) Ministry of Justice (법무부, 法務部) Ministry of Labor (노동부, 勞動部) Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (해양수산부, 海洋水産部) Ministry of National Defense (국방부, 國防部) Ministry of Planning and Budget (기획예산처, 企劃豫算處) Ministry of Science and Technology (과학기술부, 科學技術部) - One of the Vice Prime Minister Ministry of Unification (통일부, 統一部)