#1 Easy Guide To South Korean Government Facts

Are you interested in learning how the government of Korea works? If you wish to study, work, or simply stay in South Korea, then having basic know-how of the South Korean government is an ultimate need. In this article, we will walk you through each component of the South Korean administration, along with its functions in today’s society. So without further ado, let’s get started, 시작 (sijag)!!!!

Type Of Government

South Korea is a unitary state council having a presidential system, and thus it is a constitutional republic. Its current Chief of State, as well as the Head of Government, is President Moon Jae-in. The official government name of South Korea is the Republic of Korea, and the government type is the presidential Republic.

At present, there are around 17 environmental agreements in which South Korea is participating which is an indicator of active and good governance in the country.

Two Major Components Of The South Korean Government

Like in different government types, there are some aspects that one must know of. In the case of South Korea, the locals primarily give importance to its President and cabinet members. Let’s find out more about that in the sections below.


As the head of the state, the President is elected by the nation through a plurality vote system. The President serves for five years. If something happens to the President, the prime minister will take place instead of the President, or a new president will be elected.

As the head of the state, the President represents the country in foreign relations. He is responsible for the protection, integrity, prosperity of the country. The President is also the commander of the chief of the armed forces. The President also has the power to form foreign policy.

The President also has the authority to proclaim and take any emergency measures whenever required. For instance, South Korea took certain measures to curtail the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic since its onset.


The President performs his executive duties with the help of the cabinet, which comprises 15 to 30 members under the presidential system. The President assigns the cabinet members with the suggestion of the prime minister. The President also appoints the prime minister with the national assembly’s approval.

The prime minister is in charge of administrative ministries with the President’s approval. The prime minister is the vice-chairman of the cabinet. He has the authority to make recommendations for the ministers, so the prime minister takes the second position after the President in the cabinet.

Main Responsibilities

The cabinet has authority over many important decisions like basic plans for general policies of executive or state fairs, declaration of war, important matters regarding foreign policy, important military affairs, emergency orders, declaration or termination of martial law, economic actions, and other important financial matters.

The cabinet also has authority over budgets, awarding honors, restoration of rights, and settlement of accounts. The evaluation and analysis of the administration of state affairs also proceed under the influence of the federal cabinet. The cabinet is also responsible for forming basic plans concerning delegation or allocation of power within the executive. The cabinet of Korea is a combination of both the presidential system and the parliamentary system.

Three Main Branches Of The South Korean Government

Executive Branch

The Executive branch is headed by the President. The people elect the President as he will be the head of the state. The President has the power to declare war, any state of emergency, or even martial law, but he has no power to terminate the national assembly.

Main Powers

Main powers belong to the President as the head of the state. The Prime Minister of South Korea, as well as the presidential secretariat, assists the President. The prime minister is appointed by the President, and it depends upon the approval of the national assembly. If the President cannot fulfill their duties, the prime minister takes over the place, or a new president is elected. Supreme court judges are also in charge of the executory charge of the government.

Election Process

A plurality vote system elects the President. Citizens over the age of 18 years old are eligible to vote. Polling places are located in many parts of the country, but usually in schools. Voters may vote in their registered areas. Non-Korean citizens having a visa of almost three years can also vote in local elections.

Election Cycle

The President can serve for five years which is its time limit, and new elections are conducted every five years. However, he can’t take part in the elections again directly or indirectly.

Legislative Branch

Main Powers

President approves the nominations. The legislative body has the authority to question the President whenever the need arises. In short, it has the power to remove the high officials. The national assembly is in charge of dealing with legislative, administrative procedures, budget, and approving state appointments.

Election Process

The legislative system comprises a single large assembly. Single-member constituencies elect almost 300 members, but 56 are elected through proportional representation.

Election Cycle

Elections are conducted after 4 years.

Judicial Branch

Main Powers

The judicial branch comprises the supreme court, district courts, family courts, patent courts, and administrative courts. Different courts are responsible for dealing with different cases; for instance, municipal courts deal with minor cases, district courts deal with civil or criminal cases, and high courts deal with complicated cases. The supreme court is the highest and is independent of the government. There is no jury system in Korea.

Election Process

The President appoints the supreme court chief justice with the agreement of the national assembly. The recommendation of the chief justice decides the appointment of other judges. These judges are also approved by the President and with the agreement of the national assembly. In the case of constitutional courts, 3 judges are appointed by the President, the national assembly appoints 3, and the supreme court chief justice appoints 3 judges.

Election Cycle

The period of chief justice is six years with the exception of reappointment, and the period of justices of the supreme court is six years. However, that is not the limit, and they can be re-elected when required. The period of the judges other than supreme court justices and the chief justice is 10 years.

National Assembly

The first national assembly of Korea was established on May 31, 1948. On April 15, 2020, the 21st national assembly was established through the legislative elections. The national assembly of the Republic of Korea represents the people’s opinions. The National assembly establishes all the laws. The national assembly consists of 300 seats. The number of constituency seats is 253, and the number of proportional representation seats is 47. The national assembly proceeding hall is located in Yeouido.

Civil Services In The South Korean Government

Korean civil service system is based upon a grading system. Civil servants are servants of people, and they should be honest, generous, kind, and sincere. Civil servants are characterized as “special civil servants” and “career civil servants.” A career in civil service includes professions like judges, prosecutors, fire fighting, civil employees in the military, and education. On the other hand, special civil service includes political officials, officials in the national assembly, and high-ranking political officials.

Policy On Human Rights

The state is responsible for confirming and guaranteeing the fundamental human rights of individuals. According to human rights articles, all citizens should be treated equally, considering legal matters. Furthermore, there is no discrimination in social, economic, political, and cultural life. The residence of each citizen is not bound. Instead, they enjoy the liberty to buy land and move out according to their wish.

The privacy of citizens should not be invaded. All citizens should enjoy the freedom of religion, speech, learning, arts, liberty, etc. One aspect of the policy of the South Korean government is its free-of-cost compulsory education, and the citizens do not have to pay for it. Furthermore, the citizens having children are responsible for their elementary education and further education. When the citizens are of eligible age, they can vote for and elect the president.

All citizens have the right to work, and the state should be responsible for giving employment. Working women and children shall be given special protection; there should be no discrimination regarding wages, employment, and working conditions.

The freedom and rights of citizens should not be neglected. The state is responsible for the protection of the health of the citizens. Citizens are also responsible for paying taxes, and all citizens also have the duty of national defense.


South Korean military was established on August 15, 1948. South Korea adopted a presidential system and national security law, which was done to ban those groups showing support for North Korea. The South Korean armed forces are also called the Republic of Korea armed forces (ROK). The ROK armed forces comprise ROK Army, ROK Navy, and ROK Airforce.

This force was not formed recently and had its roots when Korea was fighting against the Japanese soldiers and needed to protect their land. Its initial form was the United States Army Military Government in Korea. There is a Joint Chiefs of Staff in charge of all the service branches of the South Korean Military.

ROK Army

In 2019, there was around 464,000 personnel in the ROKA. Initially, there were three sub-branches of the ROK Army: the First Army (FROKA), Third Army (TROKA), and Second Army. All of them had their different distinct sectors and workings.

However, these departments are revamped, and the first and last departments were amalgamated into one because both seemed to perform similar functions. In contrast, the second division stayed the same and was named a Second Operational Command.

Service Branches

ROK is divided into three main branches: ROK Army, ROK Navy, and ROK Air Force. These branches also have certain sub-branches like ROK Navy has a sub-branch called ROK Marine Corps. Another component of ROK is ROK Reserve Forces.

International Cooperation Of The South Korean Government

South Korea became a part of the United Nations in 1991. South Korea has diplomatic relations with 191 countries. South Korea is also a member of many international organizations like IMF, WHO, UNESCO, IAEA, APEC, and many more.

Economic Strength

South Korea has also contributed internationally in economic strength. It also took part in various worldwide activities for peacekeeping, environmental conservation, etc. South Korea has also conducted many great events like the 1988 Summer Olympics, 2018 Winter Olympics, and 2002 World Cup Soccer Tournament. South Korea has also provided foreign aid to many countries to support developing countries in Africa and Asia.

International Relations

South Korea had increased its relationships with the US since 1948, when the US stood with South Korea during the Korean war. Now South Korea has become a partner with the US. South Korea also has good relations with China as the trade between the two countries increases.

China also tried to improve relations between North Korea and South Korea. After many disputes, Korea has also normalized its relationships with Japan in 1965, and both of the countries have conducted conferences to discuss trade. The relationship between North Korea and South Korea has not been the same since Korean War.

North Korea–South Korea Relations

Its relations with North Korea determine a very important aspect of South Korean politics. South Korea and North Korea share a long history in which both the countries used to be a single nation called the Korean Peninsula.

However, after the cold war, the ties between the countries had to diminish, and therefore the entire peninsula got split into two parts: South Korea and North Korea. These two countries have tensions, and that can also be demonstrated in many South Korean dramas like Descendants of the Sun 태양의 후예 (Taeyangee Hwae) as well as Crash landing on you 사랑의 불시착 (Sarang-UI Bulsichak).

Wrapping Up

South Korean Government

This article indeed gave you a pool of information about the South Korean Government system. If you are preparing for TOPIK’s advanced level, then the Ling App by Simya Solutions is a great place to start learning any language. Be it English or Korean, you can find any language on Ling App. Get excellent benefits, and do not miss out on the chance to use the Ling App today! Download it now for free!

Happy learning!

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