Constitutional Court of Korea

Constitutional Court of Korea
Constitutional Court of Korea
Established 1988
Jurisdiction Republic of Korea
Location Seoul
Composition method Legislative & executive selection
Authorized by Constitution
Judge term length 6 years
Number of positions 9
Currently Kang-Kook Lee, Ph. D.
Since January 22, 2007
Jurist term ends January 21, 2013
Constitutional Court of Korea
Hangul 헌법재판소
Hanja 憲法裁判所
Revised Romanization Heonbeop Jaepanso
McCune–Reischauer Hŏnpŏp Chaep'anso

The Constitutional Court of Korea is an independent and specialised court in South Korea, whose primarily role is the reviewing constitutionality under the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. It also has administrative law functions such as ruling on competence disputes between governmental entities, giving final decisions on impeachments, and making judgments on the dissolution of political parties.



The Last Resort for the Constitutional Disputes

The Korean Constitutional Court has jurisdiction over constitutional review of statutes, constitutional complaints, competence disputes between governmental entities, impeachment of high governmental officials, and dissolution of political parties. A decision of the Constitutional Court cannot be appealed and binds all state agencies and local governments.

Organ for Safeguarding the Constitution

The Constitutional Court, along with the ordinary courts, protects the Constitution through adjudication procedures. Jurisdiction belonging to the Constitutional Court, all interpret and apply the Constitution, aiming to solve constitutional conflicts and protect the Constitution from violation.

Organ for Protecting Basic Rights

The Constitutional Court also protects basic rights. When basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution are violated by the exercise or non-exercise of governmental power, the Constitutional Court may rule such use of governmental power as unconstitutional. In addition, in case a statute is deemed to infringe upon basic rights, the Court may rule the statute as unconstitutional, invalidating the statute.

Organ for Control of Governmental Power

Any statute legislated by the legislative body may be ruled void through judgment on the constitutionality of statutes at the Constitutional Court. In addition, the Court may decide to impeach a member of the administrative or judicial body in case of abuse of public power. It may also order the dissolution of a political party, should the party act against democratic social order.

One of the Highest Constitutional Organs

The Constitution of Korea guarantees independent status and power to the Constitutional Court by having a separate chapter in the Constitution apart from the National Assembly, the Executive, and the Supreme Court. In line with the principle of separation of powers, the Constitutional Court exercises its authority along with the National Assembly, President, and the Supreme Court, making it on par with the other highest constitutional organs.


Nine Justices serve on the court, all of whom are appointed by the President. Three of the positions are appointed directly by the President. Of the remaining six positions, three are appointed from candidates nominated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and three are appointed from candidates elected by the National Assembly. In addition, the head of the court is chosen by the President, with the consent of the National Assembly. Justices serve renewable terms of six years, and are required to retire their posts at the age of 65, excepting the head of the Constitutional Court, who may serve until the age of 70.

Justices of the Constitutional Court are prohibited from joining political parties and engaging in political activities by Article 112(2) of the Constitution. In addition, Justices of the Constitutional Court are prohibited by law from running businesses, holding other public offices, and being otherwise employed.


President of the Constitutional Court

The President of the Constitutional Court represents the Constitutional Court, take charge of the affairs of the Constitutional Court, and directs and supervises public officials under his or her authority. Further, the President is the Chairman of the Council of Justices and the presiding Justice of the Full Bench of the Constitutional Court.[2]


The Constitutional Court is composed of nine Justices qualified to be court judges and appointed by the President. Three Justices are appointed from persons selected by the National Assembly, and three appointed from persons nominated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Justices exercise jurisdiction in judgments as a member of either the full bench or panel. As members of Council of Justices, they exercise voting rights on important matters concerning the administration of the Constitutional Court..[1]

Council of Justices

The Council of Justices is vested with the authority to decide important matters relating to the Court's administration. It consists of all the Justices and is presided over by the President of the Constitutional Court.[2]

Constitutional Court Administration

The Constitutional Court Administration is responsible for the management of the general administrative affairs of the Constitutional Court. This Administration is composed of 1 Office, 2 Bureaus, and 1 Division. Specifically, these are the Planning & Coordination Office, the Judgment Affairs Bureau, the Judicial Records & Materials Bureau, and the General Services Division. The Secretary General,the Chief of the Administration takes responsibility for the affairs of the Administration, directs and supervises the public officials under the direction of the President of the Constitutional Court. The Deputy Secretary General assists the Secretary General.[2]

Constitution research Officers

Constitution research Officers and Assistant constitution research Officers The Constitutional Court has Constitutional Research Officers, the number of which is specified in the Constitutional Court Act. The Constitution Research Officers are engaged in studies and researches concerning the deliberation and adjudication of cases under the order of the President of the Constitutional Court. Provided, the President of the Constitutional Court may have the Constitution Research Officers hold concurrent offices other than studies and researches concerning the deliberation and adjudication of cases.[1]


Adjudication on the constitutionality of statutes

Adjudication on the constitutionality of the statutes is an adjudication system which nullifies the statute that has been found unconstitutional by the review of the Court. It is a core component of constitutional adjudication, which secures checks-and-balances mechanism against the legislative branch for the purposes of protecting the Constitution.

Constitutional complaint

The constitutional complaint is an adjudication system where anyone whose basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution has been infringed upon by the governmental power, can file a constitutional complaint. Anyone, including judicial persons may file a constitutional complaint. Unlike other adjudications of the Constitutional Court, where the National Assembly, executive branch, or ordinary court is the claimant, the individual citizen becomes the claimant in constitutional complaint, and it aims to directly relieve the person from violation of basic rights. Therefore, constitutional complaint is the core of our systematic mechanisms to assure basic rights. With the introduction of the constitutional complaint system, Korean democracy took an important step forward; it also has contributed to the revitalization of the constitutional adjudication system.

Adjudication on competence Dispute

When conflicts arise between state and local governments and agencies about the duties and authorities of each institution, it not only endangers the principle of checks and balances between public powers, but also risks paralyzing an important government function. This may pose a threat to the basic rights of citizens, which calls for a systematic coordinating mechanism. Our Constitution has endowed the Constitutional Court the jurisdiction on the adjudication on competence disputes, as part of a function to safeguard the Constitution.

Adjudication on impeachment

The Constitutional Court has exclusive jurisdiction over impeachment proceedings brought against certain high-ranking public officials. In general, impeachment prosecution is done by the National Assembly; in bicameral countries it is done by the higher house, and some countries have a separate Court of Impeachment, but the Korean Constitution endowed exclusive jurisdiction of impeachment to the Constitutional Court.

Adjudication on dissolution of a political party

If the objectives or activities of a political party are contrary to the basic order of democracy, the Executive may request to the Constitutional Court, upon a deliberation of the State Council, adjudication on dissolution of the political party. This jurisdiction is assigned to the Constitutional Court for the purpose of protecting the Constitution from the destruction of the basic order of democracy by a political party, but also has a meaning of protecting political parties from the arbitrary decisions of the Executive.


The current Constitutional Court dates from the inception of the Sixth Republic of South Korea in 1988, and was established by Chapter VI of the Constitution. Although prior to the Sixth Republic, there had been bodies for constitutional review, none of them were active. Prior to the establishment of the current Constitutional Court, the organs for constitutional review of the Republic of Korea had only made three rulings since 1960. In contrast, the current Constitutional Court gave rulings in more than 400 cases in its first year of operation.[3] As of December 31, 2006, the new Constitutional Court has already examined 13,945 cases with 13,058 cases resolved and 887 cases pending. This drastic change largely owes to the people's movement for democracy in 1987 which gave a birth to the current Constitutional Court and allowed a new judicial review system in Korea.[2] Currently, Justice Mr. Kang-Kook Lee has been serving the court as the 4th President of the Constitutional Court since January 22, 2007.


See also


  1. ^ a b c d The Constitutional Court of Korea (2009). Seoul, Korea.
  2. ^ a b c d The Republic of Korea (2007). "The Constitutional Court." Seoul, Korea.
  3. ^ South Korea : Country Studies - Federal Research Division, Library of Congress

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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