Elections in South Korea

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Republic of Korea

Elections in South Korea are held on national level to select the President and the National Assembly. Local elections are held every four years to elect governors, metropolitan mayors, municipal mayors, and provincial and municipal legislatures.

The president is directly elected for a single five-year term by plurality vote. The National Assembly has 300 members elected for a four-year term, 253 in single-seat constituencies and 47 members by proportional representation. Each individual party willing to represent its policies in the National Assembly is qualified on the legislative (general) election if: i) the national party-vote reaches over 3% on proportional contest or ii) more than 5 members of the party are elected from each of their first-past-the-post election constituencies.[1]

Since the 2017 presidential elections, South Korea has two main parties, the left-leaning Democratic Party of Korea and the conservative Liberty Korea Party. In addition, there are currently three significant minor parties: the centrist Party for Democracy and Peace, the liberal-conservative Bareun Party and the progressive Justice Party.

Election Technology[]

South Korean ballots from 2010.

Polling places are usually located in schools. During the absentee or early voting period, voters can vote at any polling place in the country. On election day, voters may only vote at polling places in their registered constituency. Korean voters mark paper ballots with a rubber stamp using red ink. There is one race per ballot paper; if there are multiple office up for election, ballot papers are color coded and voters are issued one ballot per race.[2]

Korea uses a central count model. After the polls close, ballot boxes are sealed and transported to the constituency's counting center. Traditionally, ballots were hand counted, but since around[when?] 2012, optical scanners have been used. The scanners resemble cash sorter machines, sorting the ballots into stacks by how they are voted. Stacks are then counted using machines resembling currency counting machines.[3]

Korean elections have been praised as a model of best practice.[2] However, the legality of the introduction of optical scan technology has been challenged and there have been allegations of rigged counting.[3]



Position 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Type Presidential (May) Local (June) None National Assembly (April) None Local (June)
Presidential (March)
President President None President
National Assembly None All seats None
Provinces, cities and municipalities None All positions None All positions


Position 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Type Presidential (May) Local (July) None National Assembly (May) None Local (July)
Presidential (May)
President May 10 None May 10
National Assembly None May 30 None
Provinces, cities and municipalities None July 1 None July 1

Latest elections[]

2016 legislative election[]

e • d Summary of the 13 April 2016 South Korean National Assembly election results[4][5]
Party Constituency Party list Total
Votes % Seats +/– Votes % Seats +/–
Democratic Party of Korea (더불어민주당) (DPK) 1 8,881,369 37.0 110 Increase4 6,069,744 25.5 13 Decrease8 123 Decrease4
Saenuri Party (새누리당) (SP) 2 9,200,690 38.3 105 Decrease25 7,960,272 33.5 17 Decrease10 122 Decrease35
People's Party (국민의당) (PP) 3,565,451 14.9 25 (new) 6,355,572 26.7 13 (new) 38 (new)
Justice Party (정의당) (JP) 3 395,357 1.6 2 Increase2 1,719,891 7.2 4 Increase4 6 Increase6
Christian Liberal Party (기독자유당) (CLP) 1,376 0.0 0 (new) 626,853 2.6 0 (new) 0 (new)
Minjoo Party (민주당) (MP) 4 17,034 0.1 0 (new) 209,872 0.9 0 (new) 0 (new)
Other parties 257,879 1.1 0 Steady 818,773 3.4 0 Steady 0 Steady
Independents 1,683,264 7.0 11 Increase8 N/A 11 Increase8
Total 24,002,420 100.0 253 Increase7 23,760,977 100 47 Decrease7 300
Turnout: 58.0%[6]

Seat changes are compared to previous election, not the outgoing Assembly
1 Comparison based on 2012 Democratic United Party result
2 Comparison includes members elected in 2012 for the Liberty Forward Party
3 Comparison based on 2012 Unified Progressive Party result
4 Non-parliamentary grouping: not to be confused with the larger Minjoo Party of Korea, more usually referred to as the Minjoo Party

2018 local election[]

2017 presidential election[]

Summary of past elections[]

Presidential elections[]

Legislative elections[]

Local elections[]


  1. ^ Representation System(Elected Person) Archived April 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., the NEC, Retrieved on April 10, 2008
  2. ^ a b Tim Meisburger, Korean Elections: A Model of Best Practice, April 20, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Oglim, The South Korean 2012 Presidential Election was Fraudulent, Feb. 21, 2013. (archived version.)
  4. ^ "4.13 총선" (in Korean). Naver News. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  5. ^ "개표진행상황" (in Korean). Republic of Korea National Election Commission. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  6. ^ "20대 총선 잠정투표율 58.0%…19대보다 3.8%p↑" (in Korean). Yonhap News. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.

See also[]

Further reading[]

External links[]