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Government

            After the World War II, South Korea switched from a monarchical form of government to a democratic republic, and now has a system of government almost identical to the U.S.A. The Head of State and Commander in Chief of armed forces is the president, who is elected by direct popular vote and serves only one five year term. The president of considerable executive powers, which include appointing the prime minister with the approval of the National Assembly (which is analogous to the United States’ Congress) as well as appointing and presiding over the State Council of chief ministers (which is analogous to the United States’ cabinet).

The legislative branch consists of the National Assembly, which is a unicameral body with members that serve four year terms. Presently, the National assembly consists of 299 members, 243 of which are elected by regional vote. The remaining fifty-six members are distributed by proportional representation. Their duties are lawmaking, approving national budget, ratifying treaties, and approving some appointed positions, such as the justices on the Supreme Court.

The highest court in the judicial branch is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can have a maximum of fourteen justices that serve renewable six year terms. The justices are appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly. Lower courts include district courts, family courts, appellate courts, and military courts.

As well as dealing with laws, treaties, and other important matters, the government has had a surprisingly large role in South Korea’s economy. South Korea, which has the tenth largest economy under absolute terms, has made one of the quickest, most successful economic returns in history. Only about forty years ago, Korea’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita was ranked among the poorer African and Asian countries. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies. After the war, the government put forth five year plans for the economy to target specific industries to develop.



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