The legal system of South Korea is a civil law system that has its basis in the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, which is at the pinnacle of the country’s hierarchy of laws. Korea’s Acts and Subordinate Statutes form a consolidated system that is designed to prevent contradictions or conflicts.
The power to enact Acts belongs exclusively to the National Assembly, with the law-making power held by the Executive for subordinate statutes confined to matters delegated by Acts and other matters necessary to enforce Acts. Since such subordinate statutes are required to conform to Acts, the National Assembly is the supreme law-making organ. The most recent National Assembly elections took place in April 2016. The next election is expected for 2020. The last Presidential Election took place in December 2012. The next Presidential election is due to take place in 2017.
The law-making process can be initiated by the national assembly or by government representatives. In the first case, a bill is proposed by 10 or more national assembly representatives. The proposed bill is deliberated by the standing committee. After the bill passes the committee, it is referred to the plenary session. Bills that pass the plenary session will then be sent to the government to be promulgated. Bills can also be submitted by a relevant ministry. Other ministries will be consulted and a public notice will be issued. The bill is then reviewed by the Ministry of Legislation (MOLEG), an independent and specialised self-legislative control agency within the government in order to exercise overall control of and co-ordinate the government’s legislative activities and to review whether individual bills contravene higher laws or conflict with relevant laws. The bill is deliberated at the State Council and sent for presidential approval. After that it is submitted to the National Assembly for decision. Once it is passed in the National Assembly, it returns to MOLEG and is finally promulgated. Presidential decrees are promulgated directly after their approval by the President and do not go through the National Assembly.