- Na in the past
The Constituent Assembly (1948.5.31~1950.5.30)
Democracy has become a familiar word to Koreans, but it was only through great struggle that democracy in Korea was able to blossom.
And throughout the trials and challenges, the National Assembly has stood by the people. Indeed, the triumph over pain and hardship during the National Assembly's half-century journey represents the very essence of democracy's evolution on Korean soil: countless trials and tribulations, as well as glory and fulfillment.
In April 1919, carrying forward the spirit of democracy and the self-determination of the March 1st Independence Movement, the nation's leaders gathered in Shanghai to convene a Provisional Legislative Council.
In this precursor of the National Assembly, the people’s hopes for the future were kept alive.
The council elected Lee Dong-nyong as Chairman and Rhee Syngman as Prime Minister, and adopted ten articles of the Provisional Charter of the Nation of the Korean People, thus establishing the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. Breaking with the five thousand-year history of the nation, the Provisional Charter stipulated that the motherland, once liberated, would be a democratic republic, based on freedom and equality.
By introducing ideals of democracy, the Charter gave the future parliament of the nation the leading role in the realization of democracy. Article 2 of the Provisional Charter stipulated that the Republic of Korea would be ruled by a Provisional Government, in accordance with the resolutions of the Provisional Legislative Council, thus making it clear that in representing the people, the Council’s function would be to make laws and to oversee the government, giving constructive criticism when needed.
National liberation came on August 15th, 1945. On December 12th, 1946, the South Chosun Provisional Legislative Council was convened to write the National Assembly Election Law, thus laying the cornerstone in the building of an independent nation.
The 2nd National Assembly (1950.5.31~1954.5.30)
In the elections for the 2nd National Assembly on May 30th, 1950, with political parties still in their formative stages, independents emerged with more than half the seats in the house. However, barely a week after the Assembly was convened, the Korean War broke out. The Assembly resolved to defend the capital city to the end, and to call upon the United Nations and the United States for emergency assistance.
Notwithstanding the extraordinary circumstances of war, the National Assembly demonstrated gross government ineptitude in the shameful massacre of civilians in the town of Gochang as well as in the deaths of thousands of conscripted soldiers from starvation and illness. Inside the Chamber, the demands for government accountability grew louder.
President Rhee thought it would be impossible to be reelected by the Assembly, so he pushed for a Constitutional revision for direct presidential election, and rallied his supporters into establishing the Liberal Party. However, the Assembly defeated the motion, and tabled another amendment calling for a parliamentary system instead. The mood of confrontation was heightened. Unable to introduce direct presidential election through normal parliamentary procedures, the ruling camp manipulated public demonstrations and mobilized gangs of hoodlums to overpower the National Assembly in what later came to be chronicled as the "Busan political upheaval" of July 4th, 1952. A compromise amendment was passed, combining the elements of both the government's draft and the Assembly version, and members who tried to boycott the vote were forcibly mobilized to meet the required quorum. Thus, despite having the greatest power of all to keep the executive in check, the 2nd Assembly was enfeebled, and parliamentary democracy suffered.
The 3rd National Assembly (1954.5.31~1958.5.30)
In the balloting for the 3rd National Assembly on May 20th, 1954, the ruling Liberal Party failed to secure the required number of seats to pass a Constitutional amendment.
After recruiting independents to its side, the Liberal Party tabled a draft for the 2nd rewrite of the Constitution, so as to lift the ban against three consecutive terms for the first President Syngman Rhee.
The voting in the Assembly, on November 27th, 1954, was 135 votes in favor, one less than a two-thirds majority of the house membership of 203. It was announced that the motion was defeated.
But two days later, citing the mathematical rounding-off principle, the ruling camp, in the absence of the opposition Members, overturned the decision, and declared that the amendment had passed.
In protest, the opposition submitted resolutions denouncing the government, and demanding that the proceedings of the plenary overturning the initial decision be dropped.
The ruling party's high-handedness prompted the opposition camp to rally, and the result was the birth of the Democratic Party, which would go on to form a major lineage in the evolution of political parties in the nation.
Despite the political turmoil in the aftermath of the Korean War, the 3rd Assembly fulfilled its role as the legislative branch of government by writing the Civil Law, which was vital to the consolidation of social order in the fledgling Republic.
It took six years to draft the Law, and three years for the National Assembly to deliberate it. After nearly a decade of strenuous effort, the Republic of Korea had a modern Civil Code suited to the realities of the sovereign nation
The 4th National Assembly (1958.5.31~1960.7.28)
In the elections for the 4th National Assembly on May 2nd, 1958, the opposition made remarkable headway, as the public had become disillusioned with the Liberal Party's prolonged hold on power.
The struggle of the 4th Assembly began when the Liberal Party tried to railroad an amendment to the National Security Law.
To prolong its regime, the Liberal Party resorted to every conceivable means to win the March 15th, 1960 election for the President and Vice President.
Angered by the injustice, the people rose up. Beginning in Masan, the demonstrations quickly spread throughout the country, demanding the resignation of the President. Thus began the April 19th Revolution.
The Assembly resolved to call for the annulment of the March 15th election and for a Constitutional amendment on a parliamentary system under a transition cabinet.
On April 27th, President RHEE announced that he would resign, and on May 3, the Assembly approved his resignation.
On June 15th, 1960 the Assembly passed the 3rd rewrite of the Constitution, introducing a bicameral, parliamentary system of government so as to avert any future one-man dictatorships.
However, democracy required more than changes in the Constitution. The people and the National Assembly would have to strive to obtain it.
The 5th National Assembly (1960.7.29~1963.12.16)
On July 29th, 1960, the elections for the bicameral 5th National Assembly were held across the country.
The mission of the 5th Assembly was the strengthening of democracy and economic construction.
Under the parliamentary system of the 2nd Republic, the President was a symbolic figure, and political power resided in the National Assembly.
However, with the ruling Democratic Party divided into the "new" and "old" factions, the Assembly was unable to function effectively. The factional strife strangled deliberations of major parliamentary agenda, including the approval of the prime ministerial nomination.
To complete the work of the April Revolution, the Assembly prepared the legal basis for the prosecution of individuals linked to the corrupt election of March 15th and other anti-democratic behavior.
However, the laws lacked follow-up measures, and the public became more disillusioned, triggering collective demonstrations.
Amidst continuing social confusion and conflict, on May 16th, 1961, an army junta, headed by Major General Park Chung-hee seized power through a military coup.
Constitutional rule was promptly suspended. The 5th Assembly was dissolved, barely nine months into its term, with the parliamentary system still unsettled and the aftermath of the April 19th Revolution still unresolved.
The chance for democracy had been short-lived.
The military regime placed the legislative function of the Assembly under the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction. The Supreme Council carried out a national referendum for the 5th rewrite of the Constitution, returning the Assembly to a unicameral house and establishing a government system centering around a strong President.
The 6th National Assembly (1963.12.17~1967.6.30)
The elections for the 6th National Assembly were held on November 26th, 1963. With 63% of the Assembly seats, victory went to the Democratic Republican Party, the party forged by the military junta after the coup.
Foremost on the national agenda at the time was modernization of the country through economic development.
To secure the assistance needed for economic growth, the government promoted normalization of ties with Japan and strengthened relations with the United States.
However, the public revolted against government attempts to resume relations with Japan, and on June 3, 1963, mass demonstrations broke out around the country. In response, the government clamped down with a garrison decree.
To counter the government's tough stance, the opposition gathered forces to create the Democratic People's Party and had all of its members tender their resignations. But they were a minority, too small to stop the motion.
In August 1965, the ruling party unilaterally pushed through the ratification of the Treaty with Japan, and approved the sending of Korean combat troops to the war in Vietnam.
Foreign capital flowed in from Japan and American assistance grew with Korean participation in the Vietnam War.
Driven by the slogan, "Let's work and prosper", the people united, clearing the road to the future.
The engine of economic growth was switched on, with the driving forces industrialization and export growth.
The "Miracle on the Han River" was now in the making.
The 7th National Assembly (1967.7.1~1971.6.30)
In the elections for the 7th National Assembly on June 8th, 1967, the Democratic Republican Party, amidst accusations of foul play, claimed enough seats to push through a Constitutional rewrite on its own.
The opposition saw the elections as a prelude to a Constitutional amendment for a third term for President Park.
Denouncing the elections as corrupt and unfair, the opposition members refused to attend the Assembly, and took their struggle to the streets, demanding that the entire election be nullified. They also took their case to the courts, filing suits aimed at invalidating the results in all electoral districts.
Students sympathetic to their calls joined in the demonstrations. The Government responded by ordering universities and high schools temporarily closed.
Feeling responsible for the election fraud, some members of the ruling party resigned from the Assembly.
To break out of the political stalemate, representatives of the ruling and opposition camps met, and agreed on amendments to election laws and political party laws. Thus, five months after the Assembly was convened, the opposition members finally appeared.
Debate began on the Constitutional rewrite for a third-term presidency, pitting the ruling camp driven to see it through, against the opposition determined to stop it.
The ruling party first took care of internal dissent, through persuasion and expulsion, and then tried to push the motion through the house.
The opposition party took over the Plenary Chamber and tried to block the voting. But in an annex building, away from the Chamber, the ruling party members congregated to cast their votes, and the 6th revision of the Constitution was passed.
The 8th National Assembly (1971.7.1~1972.10.17)
On May 25th, 1971 balloting for the 8th National Assembly, the opposition New Democratic Party won an unexpectedly high number of seats, indicating the possibility of a change of government through the election process.
The 8th Assembly, with a relatively balanced two-party arrangement, passed a motion to call for the dismissal of the Home Minister, which would strengthen its ability to keep the government in check.
Student demonstrations calling for academic freedom and eradication of corruption became more intense, and the government responded with a garrison decree and a declaration of a state of national emergency.
In the absence of opposition, the ruling Republican Party unilaterally passed a special law on national security to bolster the Government's hard-line stance.
The opposition opened an extraordinary session to call for withdrawal of both the emergency declaration and the special law on national security, but with the ruling party boycotting the session, those efforts were aborted.
Unable to wage a political fight inside the Assembly, the opposition took to the streets, and the nation fell into deeper chaos.
To overcome the opposition's criticism and resistance, the Government and the ruling party plotted to change the power structure. On October 17th, 1972, President Park Chung-hee proclaimed martial law, dissolved the National Assembly, banned political activities, and partially suspended the Constitution, in the so-called "October Yushin", or "revitalization and reform".
Thus, the 8th Assembly, which had striven to curb President Park's prolonged hold on power, came to an end, one year and three months after being convened, its functions and powers taken over by the emergency cabinet.
The 9th National Assembly (1973.3.12~1979.3.11)
Elections for the 9th National Assembly were held on February 27th, 1973 under the Yushin system.
The new Assembly included Yuchonghwoe, a political group made up of Members elected by the National Conference for Unification at the nomination of the President.
During its six-year term, the longest in the nation's parliamentary history, the 9th Assembly was the stage for a clash between forces attempting to strengthen the Yushin system, and forces for democracy trying to fight it.
President Park put in motion a series of emergency decrees, prohibiting debate on Constitutional revision.
At the same time, the opposition strove to repeal the Yushin Constitution.
Inside the Assembly, the opposition members tabled a resolution for the immediate lifting of the emergency decrees and the opening of debate for a Constitutional rewrite. And to further their cause, they went on strike.
Outside in the streets, they joined with civic groups in a signature collection campaign calling for the restoration of democracy.
President Park struck back. He put to a national referendum the question of whether to amend the Constitution or not.
Having won a vote of confidence, he proclaimed an emergency decree banning debate on a Constitutional rewrite, thereby preempting the opposition.
Accordingly, the power of the National Assembly withered, and democracy fell into a deep winter sleep.
News of activities in the National Assembly was not publicized, but civic groups continued in their struggle for democracy and came out with the March 1st Statement for Democracy and National Salvation, demanding the repeal of the Yushin Constitution and the emergency decrees.
The 10th National Assembly (1979.3.12~1980.10.27)
In the December 12th, 1978 elections for the 10th National Assembly, the ruling Democratic Republic Party won a safe majority in the house. But in terms of the total number of ballots cast, the opposition New Democratic Party won more votes. The result shocked the ruling camp, and at the same time, it encouraged opposition forces against the Yushin system. The opposition thus continued to stage a fierce struggle against the dictatorship.
The 10th Assembly saw a chaotic beginning, with the ruling and opposition camps clashing over the election of a Yuchonghwoe Member as Speaker.
The confrontation intensified when the Republican Party and Yuchonghwoe moved to dismiss Kim Young-sam, President of the New Democratic Party, from House membership, citing some comments he had made to the New York Times. In response, the opposition camp went on strike.
Every member resigned from the Assembly in protest of the ruling party's high-handedness. Moreover, citizens began to turn their backs against the imperiousness of Yushin, and the brewing social unrest led to violent demonstrations in Pusan and Masan. The subsequent turmoil, as well as the Yushin system came to an abrupt end on October 26th, 1979, with the assassination of President Park.
The collapse of Yushin was followed by tremendous social unrest and uncertainty, but in their midst, democracy would briefly blossom during the so-called "Spring of Seoul".
The National Assembly set up a special committee to draft a Constitutional rewrite based upon national consensus.
However, on May 17th, 1980, martial law was imposed throughout the nation, and the work of rewriting the Constitution halted. A new military junta seized power, cutting short the 10th Assembly, only one year and eight months after its beginning, leaving the work to restore democracy uncompleted.
The 11th National Assembly (1981.4.11~1985.4.10)
Elections for the 11th National Assembly were held on March 25th, 1981, and 80% of those elected were freshman members.
The absence of senior members was the result of a special law instituted to clean up the political sector. Numerous politicians had been jailed, leading to the disintegration of existing political parties and their subsequent realignment.
Outside the Assembly, opposition politicians joined hands with dissident groups to form a civic council on promotion of democratization, thus expanding the popular base for their cause.
A key issue facing the 11th Assembly was the legitimacy of the 5th Republic and opposition demands for a direct presidential election. The National Assembly debated motions to lift the restriction against political activities that had been imposed on key political figures, to free arrested leaders of the democracy movement, and to implement local administrative autonomy.
Despite the tense political situation, the 11th Assembly was active in parliamentary diplomacy, hosting international conferences of parliamentarians.
In October 1983, with delegates from 75 countries, the 70th Inter-Parliamentary Conference was held in Seoul.
While the Seoul Inter-Parliamentary Union was in progress, a terrorist bomb exploded at the Aung San Mausoleum in Rangoon, killing many visiting Korean officials and journalists.
The union convened a special session, adopting a resolution calling for a thorough investigation of the bombing and punishment of the perpetrators.
The 12th National Assembly (1985.4.11~1988.5.29)
On February 12th, 1985, elections for the 12th National Assembly were held, and the New Korea Democratic Party staged a dramatic debut. Merging with the Democratic Korea Party, it would form the counterweight against the ruling Democratic Republican Party. The New Korea Democratic Party led the fight in the house for a Constitutional rewrite, against the ruling party's strong defense of the status quo.
The party engaged in a nationwide campaign to collect ten million signatures, calling for a Constitutional rewrite for a direct presidential election.
Bowing to public opinion, on July 30th, 1986 the ruling camp agreed to form a special committee on a Constitutional rewrite in the National Assembly, and legislative deliberation went into high gear.
However, from the beginning, the special committee was deadlocked over the issue of the form of government.
The ruling party pushed for a parliamentary system, while the opposition called for a presidential system.
On April 13th, 1987 amidst the heated debate, President Chun Doo-hwan declared that the Constitution would be preserved as was, effectively ending the year-long discussion on the Constitutional rewrite.
The President's unilateral action angered the people longing for democracy. The opposition camp joined dissidents and citizens to stage demonstrations around the country.
Overwhelmed by the mass uprising, the powers-that-be gave in, and announced the June 29th Declaration of Democratic Reforms. The National Assembly resumed its deliberation of Constitutional reform, and was able to come up the 9th amendment, with the ruling and opposition in agreement. Thus, the aspirations of the people to elect a President under their own power and to put local autonomy into practice would now be fulfilled.
The 13th National Assembly (1988.5.30~1992.5.29)
The 13th National Assembly elections, held on April 26th, 1988, gave rise to a four-party split in the house along regional lines. For the first time in the nation's parliamentary history, the government party found itself in the minority, with the three opposition parties combined accounting for the majority.
The situation led to vigorous dialogue and compromise in setting the direction of the house.
With the new system of public investigative hearings and the revival, after sixteen years, of parliamentary inspections of the government, the National Assembly strengthened its function of keeping the Government in check.
Public interest in the Assembly's work soared with investigative hearings into the Kwangju Democratic Movement of May 18th, 1980 and the irregularities of the 5th Republic.
Televised live across the country, the hearings presaged the emergence of the era of television politics.
On the occasion of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the Assembly adopted a resolution, urging North Korea's participation in the Games and proposing inter-Korean exchanges and contacts in all areas.
Accordingly, parliamentary representatives of South and North Korea met in ten rounds of preliminary contacts at the Truce Village of Panmunjom.
The talks broke off, however, when the North demanded that Team Spirit, the annual joint military exercise between the South and the United States, be shelved. Meanwhile, lacking a majority in the house, the Government and the ruling party were unable to deal effectively with the problems of mounting trade friction and labor unrest.
It needed a stronger hand. Thus, on January 22nd, 1990, the ruling party merged with two of the three opposition parties to form a giant ruling camp, ending the two-year long dominance of the opposition. On July 13th, 1991, the 13th Assembly approved the Government's acceptance of the United Nations Charter, thus opening the way for the simultaneous entry of South and North Korea into the United Nations.
The 14th National Assembly (1992.5.30~1996.5.29)
The March 24th, 1992 elections for the 14th National Assembly did not give the ruling Democratic Liberal Party a safe majority. Unlike in the past, when campaigns focused on ideological differences, the 14th Assembly Elections highlighted issues on the economy and the livelihood of the people.
Voted into office the following year, the civilian government set out to push through reforms in all sectors of society:
eliminating the legacy of authoritarianism, requiring that high-ranking public officials disclose their private assets, and introducing the real name-only requirement in financial transactions.
In the process, the 14th Assembly endeavored to strengthen its profile by implementing local autonomy, initiating political reforms, and improving the way the Assembly itself was run.
However, for five months the Assembly dragged its heels over the postponement of the local autonomy system. Adding to the discord, the ruling and opposition camps clashed over whether or not to require that candidates for county or district leadership be affiliated with a political party. After the turbulence, local elections were held on June 27th, 1995, reinstating local autonomy after three decades.
The 14th Assembly enacted a law on the ethics of public officials, wrote a comprehensive election law, and revised the political funds law, all to clean up politics and free the system from financial corruption.
The 14th Assembly also established an annual calendar for house steering, made monthly meetings mandatory for the Standing Committees, and introduced the five-minute free speech and questioning on urgent matters as a part of the Plenary procedures.
The 15th National Assembly (1996.5.30~2000.5.29)
In the 15th parliamentary election held on April 11th, 1996, the New Korea Party, the ruling party at the time, failed to secure a majority of seats, but managed to obtain a majority as the United Democratic Party joined the ruling party.
On November 26th, 1996, after the 15th National Assembly voted to consent to a motion for Korea’s entry into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Korea became the 29th member of the OECD.
The 97th Assembly of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) held in Seoul from April 10th to 15th, 1997 was attended by about 1,300 delegates from 126 countries and 27 international organizations. During the assembly, world attention was focused on the Korean delegation, which emphasized peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula by calling for actions such as a ban on the transfer of nuclear waste from Taiwan to North Korea.
Launched on February, 25th, 1998 as a result of the first-ever power shift from the ruling camp to the opposition camp, the Kim Dae-Jung Administration pursued state reforms under the banner of development of democracy and market economy, and preparation of the 21st century’s Information Society.
On May 31st, 1998, the National Assembly opened the National Assembly Memorial Museum in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Korean parliament.
In an effort to weather the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the 15th National Assembly revised laws on corporate restructuring and government reshuffling; and on January 7th, 1999, created a special committee designed to investigate the state administration on issues, including
i) the government’s inadequate economic policies and regulation of merchant banks, and ii) corporate bankruptcies involving Kia and Hanbo groups. In doing so, the Assembly aimed to identify the causes of the financial crisis and the condition of the economy.
On May, 28th, 1999, the National Assembly passed a motion for the dispatch of Korean troops to East Timor; in April, 1998, it formed the Special Committee on Political Reform; on February 9th, 2000, it reduced the number of assemblymen to 273, and prepared for legislative reforms by enabling National Assembly sessions to be held at any time. At this time it also established the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts as a permanent committee, and adopted the Whole House Committee and personnel hearing system.
Later on, the concept of participatory politics gained ground with the appearance of monitoring groups that oversaw the operation of the National Assembly.
The 16th National Assembly (2000.5.30~2004.5.29)
In the elections for the 16th National Assembly held on April 13th, 2000, the ruling Millennium Democratic Party barely defeated the main opposition Grand National Party by 115 to 113, resulting in a relatively balanced two-party arrangement.
The Assembly made improvements to house steering systems as follows: time for direct Q & A of the government was made a part of the plenary session; electronic voting was introduced; use of laptops during state administration inspections became permissible; and the NATV, National Assembly Television station, was launched. On March 3, 2004, the National Assembly Budget Office was established to research, analyze, and appraise matters concerning the budget, the settlement of accounts, the management of funds and finances of the State, as well as to support parliamentary activities.
Election system reforms included the following: the district party chapter system was discontinued on March 9, 2004; fund-raising through sponsored meetings became illegal; and the use of media, including newspapers and broadcasting, for election activities, was expanded. In short, the Assembly passed laws to reform existing high-cost, but low-effect political party structures, costly election systems, and sponsoring systems.
In April 2003, the National Assembly passed a motion for the dispatch of Korean troops to Iraq (after deliberation by the Whole House Committee in March 2003), and in August about 3,000 troops were dispatched to the northern Iraq city of Irbil on a mission code-named “Zaytun,” (meaning olive in Arabic) to help with Iraqi reconstruction. It also agreed on ratification of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Chile and South Korea in February 2004, and since then the two sides have conducted free trade. On March 12, 2004, a motion for President Roh Moo-hyun’s impeachment was passed in the National Assembly, but on May 14, it was rejected by the Constitutional Court.
The 17th National Assembly (2004.5.30~2008.5.29)
In the elections for the 17th National Assembly, held on April 15, 2004, out of a total of 299 seats, the ruling Uri Party won 152, the main opposition Grand National Party 121, the Democratic Labor Party 10, the Millennium Democratic Party 9, the United Liberal Democrats 4, and others, 3.
Election results included the following: the Uri Party secured a majority of seats, shifting party dominance from the opposition camp to the ruling camp; the Democratic Labor Party won its first-ever seats in the National Assembly in Korean constitutional history, thanks to “Proportional Representation System”, a newly-adopted election system; and 211 out of 299 elected candidates were first-term members. Finally, the proportion of elected members in their 30s and 40s rose by 43%, while the proportion of female members rose by 13%.
The 18th National Assembly (2008.5.30~2012.5.29)
In the 18th general elections held on April 9, 2008, the ruling Grand National Party won 153 seats out of a total of 299 seats, securing a majority, while the main opposition United Democratic Party won 81, the Liberty Forward Party 18, the Pro-Park Geun-hye Alliance 13, the Democratic Labor Party 5, the Creative Korea Party 3, and independents 26.
The first two years of the 18th National Assembly was chaired by Speaker Kim Hyong-O, and the second half by Speaker Park Hee-tae.
Throughout its four-year term from May 2008 to May 2013, the 18th National Assembly submitted 14,762 bills in total, of which 2,931 passed, 8 rejected, 4,789 abolished, 545 withdrawn and 6,489 abolished due to ending of the term.
The 19th National Assembly (2012.5.30~2016.5.29)
In the general election for the 19th National Assembly, held on April 11, 2012, the new city of Sejong was awarded its own constituency, making for a total of 300 constituencies.
A total of 1,090 candidates registered nationwide, including 902 for local districts and 188 for proportional representation seats, making for a competition rate of 3.6:1. The voter turnout was 54.2 percent.
The ruling Saenuri Party won a parliamentary majority of 152 seats. The largest opposition party was the Democratic United Party, which won 127 seats. The Unified Progressive Party took 13 seats, with the Liberty Forward Party taking five seats. The remaining three were won by independent candidates.
The 19th general election marked the first time in the political history of the Republic of Korea whereby both the ruling and main opposition parties operated under the leadership of female leaders. The ruling Saenuri Party was led by the Chairwoman of the party’s Emergency Committee Park Geun-hye, while the Democratic United Party’s leader was Chairwoman Han Myeong-sook. The Unified Progressive Party, which became the second-largest opposition party in the house, was also led by two female co-chairs: Sim Sang-jeung and Lee Jung-hee.
The 20th National Assembly (2016.05.30~2020.05.29)
In the general election for the 20th National Assembly, held on April 13, 2016, the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea won 123 seats out of 300, the Saenuri Party won 122, the People’s Party took 38, the Justice Party 6, and the independents 11.
The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea secured a majority of seats, shifting party dominance away from the ruling camp for the first time in 16 years.
Motion Passed to Impeach President Park Geun-hye
On Dec. 9, 2016, the National Assembly passed a motion to impeach President Park Geun-hye, and on March 10, 2017, the Constitutional Court unanimously upheld the decision. Park became the first democratically elected president in the constitutional history of the Republic of Korea to be ousted from office.
Bill Passed to Enact the Special Act on Investigating the Truth of Social Disasters and Building a Safe Society
On Nov. 24, 2017, the National Assembly passed a bill to enact the Special Act on Investigating the Truth of Social Disasters and Building a Safe Society. It was the first item on the agenda, which was processed expeditiously in accordance with Article 85-2 as part of the National Assembly Advancement Act.
Semi-Mixed Member Proportional (Semi-MMP) Electoral System Introduced and Voting Age Lowered
In December 2019, a Semi-Mixed Member Proportional (Semi-MMP) electoral system was introduced and the National Assembly passed a bill lowering the voting age from 19 to 18. The amendment to the Public Official Election Act was designated as the agenda to be processed expeditiously in April 2019, during which the Speaker exercised his power to call guards to the National Assembly, for the first time in 33 years, due to physical clashes among parliamentarians.
Corruption Investigation Office for High-Ranking Officials Established
In April 2019, a bill to enact the Act on the Establishment and Operation of the Corruption Investigation Office for High-Ranking Officials was proposed and designated as the agenda to be processed expeditiously. The National Assembly passed the bill on Dec. 30, 2019.
Response to Unprecedented National Crisis of COVID-19 Outbreak
In response to the unprecedented national crisis of the COVID-19 outbreak, on Feb. 26, 2020, the National Assembly passed amendments to the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act, the Medical Service Act, and the Quarantine Act, backed by a KRW 11.7 trillion supplementary budget bill that was approved on March 17, 2020.