Constitution of the Republic of Korea (1948)

For works with similar titles, see Constitution of South Korea.
Constitution of the Republic of Korea
대한민국헌법 (大韓民國憲法)
 (1948) 
Constituent National Assembly, translated by Korean Pacific Press

The Constitution of the Republic of Korea is the supreme law of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). It was first adopted on July 17, 1948 and amended nine times subsequently.
Source: [1]


PreambleEdit

We, the people of Korea, with a glorious tradition and history from time immemorial, following the indomitable spirit of independence, as manifested in the establishment of the Korean Republic in the course of the SAM-IL independence movement,
Now at this time engaged in reconstructing a democratic, independent country, are determined:
To consolidate national unity by justice, humanity, brotherly love and the elimination of all kinds of social evils,
To offer equal opportunities to every person,
To provide for the fullest development of the equality of equal individual in all fields of political, economic, social and cultural life,
And to permit every person to discharge his duties and responsibilities through labor and extortion and,
Under the banner of Justice, Humanity and Fraternity, are resolved:
To promote the welfare of the people, to maintain permanent international peace, to eliminate all aggressions, despotism and poverty, and thereby to assure Security, Liberty and Happiness of ourselves and our posterity,
Do hereby ordain and establish this Constitution on the 12th day of July in the year of One Thousand Nine Hundred and Forty-Eight in the National Assembly composed of our freely and duly elected representatives.

CHAPTER I General ProvisionsEdit

Article 1. The Republic of Korea shall be a democratic republic.

Article 2.

The sovereignty of the Korean Republic shall reside in the people as a whole. All state authority shall emanate from the people.

Article 3.

The requirements for Korean citizenship shall be determined by law.

Article 4.

The territory of the Republic of Korea shall consist of the Korean Peninsula, and its accessory islands.

Article 5.

The Republic of Korea shall guarantee liberty and equality and the initiative of each individual in the fields of political, social and economic life. It shall be responsible for their protection and adjustment for the promotion of the public welfare.

Article 6.

The Republic of Korea shall denounce all aggressive wars. The mission of the national military forces shall be to perform the sacred duty of protecting the national territory.

Article 7.

The duly ratified and published treaties and the generally recognized rules of international law shall be valid as a binding constituent part of the law of Korea. The status of aliens shall be guaranteed within the scope of international law and international treaties.

CHAPTER II Rights and Duties of CitizensEdit

Article 8
All citizens shall be equal before the law. No discrimination, in any field of political, economic and social life, derived from sex, religion, or social position shall exist. Privileged status shall not be recognized now, nor shall it in the future every be established.
The bestowment of badges, medals and other decorations shall confer to its bearer only personal honors and no privileged status shall be established.
Article 9

All citizens shall have personal freedom, and no citizen shall be arrested, detained, searched, tried or punished unless according to law. No citizen shall be arrested, detained or searched except by warrant of a judge specifying the reason thereof. In case a person is apprehended flagrante delicto or in case of danger that a person under suspicion may escape or destroy evidence, the detecting authority may ask for an ex post facto warrant of arrest by a judge in accordance with the provisions of law. The right to receive assistance from counsel and the right to request the appropriate court for examination of legality of an apprehension shall be guaranteed.

Article 10

All citizens shall be free from "limited residence" restrictions on choice of domicile, trespasses upon, and the searching of private premises other than specified by law.

Article 11

The privacy of correspondence of all citizens shall remain inviolate and shall not be inferred with except in accordance with law.

Article 12

All citizens shall enjoy freedom of religion and conscience. No state religion shall exist. Religion shall be severed from politics.

Article 13

Citizens shall not be subjected to any restrictions on the freedom of speech, press, assembly and association except such restrictions as are specified by law.

Article 14

All citizens shall have freedom of science and arts. Rights of authors, inventors, and artists, shall be protected by law.

Article 15

The right of property shall be guaranteed. Its context and extent shall be defined by law. The exercise of property rights shall conform to the public welfare. Expropriation, use or restriction or private property for public purposes shall be accompanied by due compensation in accordance with the provisions of law.

Article 16
All citizens shall be entitled to equal opportunity for education. At least elementary school shall be compulsory and free of charge.
The educational system shall be determined by law and all educational institutions shall be placed under the control of the state.
Article 17

All citizens shall have the right and duty to work. The standards of the conditions of labor shall be determined by law. Special protection shall be extended to the labor of women and children.

Article 18

Freedom of association, collective bargaining and collective action of laborers shall be guaranteed within the limits of the law. Workers employed in profit making private enterprises shall be entitled to share in the profits of such enterprises in accordance with the provisions of the law.

Article 19

Citizens who are incapable of making a living because of old age, infirmity or incapability to work shall be entitled to protection from the state in accordance with the provisions of law.

Article 20

Marriages shall be based on the equality of men and women. The purity of marriage and the health of the family shall be protected specifically by the state.

Article 21

All citizens shall have the right to submit written petitions to each government agency and the government shall be obliged to examine such petitions.

Article 22

All citizens shall have the right to be tried in accordance with the law by judges whose status shall be determined by law.

Article 23

No citizen shall be prosecuted for a criminal act unless such act constituted a crime prescribed by law at the time at which it was committed nor shall he be placed in double jeopardy.

Article 24

All defendants in criminal cases shall have the right to be tried in public without delay unless there is justifiable reason for not doing so. When a defendant in a criminal case who has been detained is found not guilty he may in accordance with the provisions of law request compensation from the government for the damages incurred.

Article 25

All citizens shall have the right to elect government officials in accordance with the provisions of law.

Article 26

All citizens shall have the right to assume public office in accordance with the provisions of law.

Article 27

Public officials shall be the trustees of the sovereign people and shall at all times be responsible to the people. All citizens shall have the right to petition for the removal of public officials who acted unlawfully. Citizens who suffered damages by unlawful acts of public officials in the exercise of their official duties may request compensation from the state or the public corporate bodies concerned, provided that the civil or criminal liability of the public officials concerned shall not be thereby exempted.

Article 28

Liberties and rights of the people shall not be ignored for the reason that they are not enumerated in this Constitution. Enactment of a law imposing restrictions upon the liberties and rights of citizens shall be permissible only in cases where such law is deemed necessary for the maintenance of public order and welfare of the community.

Article 29

All citizens shall have the duty to pay taxes in accordance with the provisions of law.

Article 30

All citizens have the duty to defend the national territory in accordance with the provisions of law.

CHAPTER III National AssemblyEdit

Article 31

The legislative power shall be exercised by the National Assembly.

Article 32

The National Assembly shall be composed of members elected by universal, direct, equal and secret votes. The details for the election of the members of the National Assembly shall be determined by law.

Article 33

The term of the members of the National Assembly shall be four years.

Article 34

The National Assembly shall convene each year on the twentieth day of December. Should that day fall on a Sunday, The National Assembly shall assemble the following day.

Article 35

In case of an extraordinary necessity the Speaker of the National Assembly shall summon a special session of the National Assembly upon the request of the President or upon the request of not less than one-fourth of the members of the National Assembly. The National Assembly shall convene immediately if there should arise a cause requiring the election of the President or Vice President during a recess of the National Assembly.

Article 36

The National Assembly shall elect its Speaker and two Vice-Speakers.

Article 37

Unless otherwise provided in this Constitution or the rules of the National Assembly attendance of a majority of the members duly qualified and seated and the vote of a majority of the members present shall be necessary for acts of the National Assembly. The Speaker shall have the right to participate in voting and to break a tie vote.

Article 38

The proceedings of the National Assembly shall be open to the public bu a closed session may be held by a resolution of the National Assembly.

Article 39

Bills may be introduced by the members of the National Assembly and the government.

Article 40
Bills passed by the National Assembly shall be sent to the government and the President shall, within fifteen days, promulgate the law. In case of objection the President shall return the bill to the National Assembly for reconsideration with a statement of the reasons of his objections. If, in the presence of two-thirds of the members duly elected and seated the bill is confirmed on reconsideration by two-thirds of the members present, such bill shall be determined to be a law.
If a bill is not returned within fifteen days after it has been presented to the government, the same shall become law. The President shall have the duty to proclaim without delay a law which has been determined under the foregoing paragraph.
A law shall be effective twenty days after the date of proclamation unless otherwise stipulated.
Article 41

The National Assembly shall consider and decide upon budgets.

Article 42

The National Assembly has the right to concur in (or reject) treaties concerning international organization, peace treaties, treaties pertaining to mutual aid, commercial treaties, treaties financially incumbent on the state or the people or related to legislative affairs and declare war against a foreign state.

Article 43

The National Assembly shall demand, if necessary, documents, subpoena witnesses and receive testimonies or opinions, necessary for the carrying out of state affairs.

Article 44

The Prime Minister, ministers and government officials shall be authorized to attend, state their opinions, and answer questions at the meetings of the National Assembly. Whenever requested by the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, ministers and government officials are obliged to attend a meeting of the National Assembly and to answer questions.

Article 45

The National Assembly shall investigate the qualifications of its members, establish its own rules of procedure and decide on disciplinary punishments of its own members. The concurrence of two thirds of the members duly qualified and seated shall be necessary for the expulsion of a member of the National Assembly.

Article 46
In the event the President, Vice President, ministers, Head of the Board of Audit, judges and other public officials violate in the exercise of their official duties provisions of this Constitution or other laws the National Assembly may resolve to impeach them. A motion for impeachment shall be signed by not less than 50 members of the National Assembly.
Attendance of two thirds of the members of the National Assembly duly qualified and seated and the vote of two thirds or more of the members present shall be necessary to institute impeachment.
Article 47
An Impeachment Court shall be established by law for the purpose of hearing impeachment cases. The Impeachment Court shall be presided over by the Vice President and five justices of the Supreme Court and five members of the National Assembly shall serve as associate judges.
When the President or Vice President is tried the Chief Justice shall preside. No persons shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the judges. Judgement in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than removal from office, but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to civil or criminal responsibility.
Article 48

No member of the National Assembly can be a member of any provincial council.

Article 49

When the National Assembly is in session no member of the National Assembly shall be arrested or detained without the consent of the National Assembly except when apprehended flagranto declito. In case the apprehension of a member has been made before the sitting of the National Assembly, such member shall be released during the session in case the National Assembly so requests.

Article 50

No member of the National Assembly shall be held responsible to anyone outside of the Assembly for any statement or vote occurring within the Assembly.

CHAPTER IV GovernmentEdit

Section I - PresidentEdit

Article 51

The President shall be the head of the executive branch of Government and shall represent the Republic in external relations.

Article 52

In case the President is unable to execute his office for any reason, the Vice-President shall act for him and in case both the President and Vice-President are unable to perform their duties, the Prime minister shall act for the President.

Article 53

The President and Vice President shall be elected by the National Assembly by secret ballot. The election of the President and Vice President shall be determined by the concurring vote of two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly in the presence of two-thirds of the members duly elected and seated. In case no candidate receives two-thirds of the votes a second ballot shall be taken. In case no candidate receives two-thirds of the votes in the second ballot a run-off balloting shall be conducted between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes and the candidate who received the plurality of the votes in the run-off balloting shall be elected.

Article 54
Before the President assumes his office he shall take the following oath:
I do solemnly swear before the citizens that I shall observe the Constitution, promote the welfare of the people and defend the state and shall faithfully execute the office of President.
Article 55
The President and Vice-President shall hold office for four years.
Consecutive re-election shall be permissible for one time only. The term of office of the Vice-President shall begin and end simultaneously with that of the President.
Article 56

The election for the President and Vice-President shall be held not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of the proceeding President and Vice-President. The vacancy of the President or Vice-President shall be filled without delay by election in the National Assembly.

Article 57
When in time of civil war, or in a dangerous situation arising from foreign relations, or in case of a natural calamity, or on account of a grave economic or financial crisis it is necessary to take urgent measures for the maintenance of public order and security, the president shall have the right to issue orders having the effect of law or to make necessary financial dispositions; provided however, that the President shall exercise such powers exclusively if time is lacking for the convocation of the National Assembly.
Such orders or dispositions shall be reported without delay to the National Assembly for confirmation. If confirmation of the National Assembly is not obtained, such orders or dispositions shall lose their effect, thereupon, and the President shall announce it without delay.
Article 58

The President may issue orders within the framework of the powers delegated to him and orders necessary for the enforcement of the law.

Article 59

The President shall conclude and ratify treaties, declare war, make peace, and receive and accredit diplomatic representatives of foreign countries.

Article 60

The President may address the National Assembly or communicate with the National Assembly in important national affairs by written messages.

Article 61

The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the National Military forces. The organization and formation of the military forces shall be determined by law.

Article 62

The President shall appoint government officials in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

Article 63

The President shall have the power to grant pardons, mitigation of punishment and restoration of rights, in accordance with the provisions of the law. The granting of an amnesty shall require the consent of the National Assembly.

Article 64.

The President shall proclaim a state of siege in accordance with the provisions of law.

Article 65.

The President shall confer decorations and extend other honors or awards.

Article 66.
The acts of the President pertaining to state affairs shall be executed in written documents and all such documents shall be countersigned by the Prime Minister and the minister concerned.
The foregoing paragraph applies equally to acts of the President pertaining to military affairs.
Article 67.

The President shall not be charged with criminal offense during his tenure of office except in case of treason.

Section II - State CouncilEdit

Article 68.

The State Council shall act as a collegiate body. It shall be composed of the President, the Prime Minister and other ministers and shall decide on important national policies which come within the scope of the powers of the President.

Article 69.
The President shall appoint the Prime Minister with the consent of the National Assembly. When the National Assembly convenes after a general election the appointment of the Prime Minister shall be confirmed by the National Assembly.
The ministers shall be appointed by the President. The total number of ministers shall be not more than 15 and not less than 8. No military personnel shall be appointed Prime Minister or minister unless he has resigned from active service.
Article 70.

The meetings of the State Council shall be presided over by the President. The Prime Minister shall assist the President and shall be the Vice-chairman of the State Council.

Article 71.

The decisions in the meetings of the State Council shall be by majority vote. The President shall have the right to vote and to break a tie vote.

Article 72.

The following matters shall be referred to the State Council for decision :

(1) Fundamental plans and policies concerning national affairs;
(2) Proposed treaties, declaration of war, conclusion of peace, and other important foreign policy;
(3) Proposed amendments to the Constitution, bills and orders of the President;
(4) Proposed budgets, reports to the Board of Audit, urgent financial dispositions, and the defrayment of the reserve fund;
(5) Matters pertaining to the request of convening the National Assembly for an extraordinary session;
(6) Proposed proclamation and termination of a state of siege;
(7) Important military affairs;
(8) Conferment of honors and grant of pardon, mitigation of punishment or restoration of rights;
(9) Matters referring to the liaison between departments of the executive branch and determination of their jurisdiction;
(10) Examination of petitions submitted or referred to the government;
(11) Appointment and removal of justices of the Supreme Court, Procurator General, the head of the Board of Audit, the President of the National University, ambassadors, ministers, the highest ranking officer of the National Military Force, the Chief of Staff and other public officials and the managers of important national enterprises designated by law;
(12) Establishment and operation of important policies of the various branches of the executive branch of the government;
(13) And other matters presented by the Prime Minister or the ministers

Section III - Executive DepartmentsEdit

Article 73.
The heads of the departments of the executive branch shall be appointed by the President from among the ministers.
The Prime Minister shall, under the orders of the President, control and supervise the heads of the departments; he shall take charge of administrative affairs not assigned to any particular department.
Article 74.

The Prime Minister and the head of each executive department may, by virtue of their implied authority or by special delegation, issue "Orders of the Prime Ministers" or Department Orders respectively, concerning affairs in their agencies.

Article 75.

The organization and function of each department of the executive branch shall be determined by law.

CHAPTER V CourtsEdit

Article 76
The judicial power shall be vested in the courts composed of judges.
The organization of the Supreme Court and the lower courts shall be determined by law. The qualification of judges shall be determined by law.
Article 77.

The judges of the court shall judge independently in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

Article 78.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly.

Article 79.

The tenure of the judges shall be ten years and the judges may be reappointed in accordance with the law.

Article 80.

Judges shall not be dismissed, suspended from office or have their salaries reduced except by impeachment or criminal or disciplinary punishment.

Article 81.
The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction to decide finally whether administrative orders and regulations, and dispositions, are consistent with the Constitution and the law. Whenever the decision of the case depends on the determination of the constitutionality of the law, the Court shall proceed in accordance with the decision of the Constitution Committee. The Vice President shall be the chairman of the Constitution Committee and five justices of the Supreme Court and five members of the National Assembly shall serve as members of the Constitution Committee. A decision holding that a law is unconstitutional requires a two-thirds majority of the Constitution Committee.
The organization and the rules of procedure of the Constitution Committee shall be determined by law.
Article 82.

The Supreme Court may establish internal regulations of the Court and rules pertaining to routine matters.

Article 83.

The trial and the announcement of judgment shall be open to the public but may be closed to the public by a decision of the Court when it is considered to disturb public peace and order or to be dangerous to public morals.

CHAPTER VI EconomyEdit

Article 84.
The principle of the economic order of the Korean Republic shall be to realize social justice, to meet the basic demands of all citizens and to encourage the development of a balanced economy.
Within the limits of the foregoing paragraph the economic freedom of each individual shall be guaranteed.
Article 85.

Mines and other important mineral resources, marine resources, water power and natural powers which may be utilized economically shall be owned by the State. In order to utilize and develop such resources, licenses shall, in case of public necessity, be granted for a limited period to private persons in accordance with the provisions of law and shall be cancelled in accordance with the provisions of law.

Article 86.

Farmland shall be distributed to self-tilling farmers. The method of distribution, the extent of possession, and the nature and restrictions of ownership shall be determined by law.

Article 87.
Important transportation and communication enterprises, financial and insurance institutions, electricity, irrigation, water supply, gas and any enterprises having public character shall be managed by the government or by juridical persons of public law. When required by public necessity such enterprises shall be licensed to private individuals in accordance with the provisions of law and licenses shall be cancelled in accordance with the provisions of law.
Foreign trade shall be under the control of the government.
Article 88.

In order to meet urgent necessities of national defense or national life private enterprises shall be transferred to state or public ownership, or their management shall be placed under control or supervision of the state or juridical persons of public law, when it is deemed urgently necessary in accordance with provisions of law.

Article 89.

Article 15, par. 2 of this Constitution shall be applicable to the cancellation of a license, the expropriation, use or restriction of property as provided in Arts. 85-88.

CHAPTER VII FinanceEdit

Article 90.

The items and rates of all taxes shall be determined by law.

Article 91.

The government shall submit to the National Assembly at the beginning of each annual meeting for decision a budget covering all revenues and expenditures for the fiscal year. In case a special disbursement covers a period of more than one year, such disbursement shall be established by the National Assembly as a continual fund. The National Assembly shall neither increase items of expenditure nor establish new items of expenditure without the concurrence of the government.

Article 92.

The raising of a national loan or the conclusion of any contract incumbent upon the National Treasury outside the national budget shall be subject to a decision of the National Assembly.

Article 94
The National Assembly shall enact the annual budget before the beginning of the fiscal year.
In case the budget cannot be enacted in time on account of unavoidable reasons, the National Assembly shall establish a temporary budget for a period not exceeding the first month of the fiscal year and the regular budget shall be enacted within this period.
Article 95
The counts of revenue and disbursement of the state shall be investigated annually by the Board of Audit. The Government shall submit to the National Assembly in session the following year a statement of accounts together with the investigation report of the Board of Audit.
The organization and functions of the Board of Audit shall be determined by law.

CHAPTER VIII Local Government OrganizationsEdit

Article 96
Local autonomous organizations shall manage their property and perform their genuine administrative tasks within the framework of ordinances and shall perform such additional tasks as are delegated to them by law.
Local autonomous organizations may establish self-governing regulations within the framework of ordinances.
Article 97

The organization and operation of local autonomous organizations shall be determined by law. There shall be a Board of Council set up in each local autonomous organization. The organization and authority of the local councils and the election of its members shall be determined by law.

CHAPTER IX Amendment to the ConstitutionEdit

Article 98
A motion to amend the Constitution shall be introduced either by the President or by one-third or more of the members of the National Assembly duly elected and seated.
Proposed amendments to the Constitution shall be announced by the President to the public.
The period for an announcement as prescribed in the foregoing paragraph shall not be less than 30 days.
The decision on the amendment to the Constitution requires the concurrence of more than two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly duly elected and seated.
When an amendment to the Constitution has been adopted the President shall promulgate it immediately.

CHAPTER X Supplementary RulesEdit

Article 99

This Constitution shall be in effect from the date of its promulgation so declared by the Speaker of the National Assembly which established this Constitution. However, those provisions which can be made effective only after the enactment of supplementary laws shall become effective from the date at which such a supplementary law becomes effective.

Article 100

Existing ordinances shall be in effect to the extent that they do not conflict with this Constitution.

Article 101

The National Assembly which enacted this Constitution may establish a special law dealing with the punishment of malicious anti-national acts committed prior to 15 August 1945.

Article 102

Government officials who are holding positions at the effective date of this Constitution shall continue their duties until such time as their successors shall be elected or appointed according to this Constitution.

Article 103
  1. Government officials holding positions at the effective date of this Constitution shall continue in office until such time as their successors shall be elected or appointed as provided in this Constitution.
  2. The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea hereby promulgates this Constitution of the Republic of Korea ordained and established by the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea.

AddendaEdit

ESCHATOCOL (Revision of July 17, 1948)Edit

On this Seventeenth Day of July in the year of Tangun Four Thousand Two Hundred and Eighty-One (T.N. July 17, A.D. 1948).
The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea
Syngman Rhee

Amendment historyEdit

Date of Promulgation Nickname Nickname in Korean
July 17, 1948 Constitution of the First Republic (Jeheon Constitution) 제1공화국헌법 (第一共和國憲法) / 제헌헌법 (制憲憲法)
 

This work is in the public domain because, according to Article 7 of the Copyright Act of South Korea, this work is not protected by copyright law. This following works are included:

  1. Constitution, laws, treaties, decrees, ordinances and rules;
  2. Notices, public notifications, directions and others similar to them issued by the state or local government;
  3. Judgments, decisions, orders, or rulings of courts, as well as rulings and decisions made by the administrative appeal procedures, or other similar procedures;
  4. Compilations or translations of works as referred to in Subparagraphs 1 to 3 which are produced by the state or local government; and
  5. Current news reports which transmit simple facts, and digital audio transmission
 
 

This work is in the public domain in the U.S. because it is an edict of a government, local or foreign. See § 313.6(C)(2) of the Compendium II: Copyright Office Practices. Such documents include "legislative enactments, judicial decisions, administrative rulings, public ordinances, or similar types of official legal materials" as well as "any translation prepared by a government employee acting within the course of his or her official duties."

These do not include works of the Organization of American States, United Nations, or any of the UN specialized agencies. See Compendium III § 313.6(C)(2) and 17 U.S.C. 104(b)(5).


  A non-American governmental edict may still be copyrighted outside the U.S. Similar to {{PD-in-USGov}}, the above U.S. Copyright Office Practice does not prevent U.S. states or localities from holding copyright abroad, depending on foreign copyright laws and regulations.