Excerpt from ACE project
In accordance with the provision of Article 114, paragraph 1 of the country’s constitution, the NEC was established in the Election Commission Act of 1992 as an independent constitutional agency compatible with the National Assembly, the government, the courts and the Constitutional Court of Korea for the purpose of managing fair elections and national referenda, and dealing with administrative affairs concerning political parties and political funds. The Election Commission Act states regulations on the establishment and duties of Election Commissions at each level, appointment procedures and qualifications of election commissioners, and the chairperson’s and full- time commissioner’s authority and roles.
The NEC, after self-examination regarding the illegal election of 15 March 1960, became a constitutional agency following the enactment of the Fifth Constitutional Amendment in 1963. The term and status of each election commissioner is strictly guaranteed, as prescribed in the constitution and act, to guarantee the fair execution of duties without any external interference.
Institutional Structure and Professionalism
The Election Commission of Korea is an electoral management body with permanent nationwide organizations. The Election Commission has a four-tier structure consisting of the NEC at the top, Si (special metropolitan, metropolitan city)/Do (province) election commissions (ECs), Gu (district)/Si (city)/Gun (county) ECs, and Eup/Myeon/ Dong (township) ECs. Overseas Voting Committees are set up at Korean overseas missions for presidential and National Assembly elections. Currently, there are 16 Si/ Do ECs, 251 Gu/Si/Gun ECs and 3,470 Eup/Myeon/Dong ECs.
The NEC is composed of nine commissioners, including one chairperson and one full- time commissioner. Since the chairperson, who is a current Supreme Court justice, does not serve full time, a minister-level commissioner serves full time to assist the chairperson and oversee the secretariat.
The secretariat, including a minister-level secretary general and a vice minister-level deputy secretary general, is composed of two offices, one bureau, six departments and 27 divisions, and the Korean Civic Education Institute for Democracy for democratic civic and political education. The IENDC and EBDC are subordinate to the NEC. The 16 Si/Do ECs have one full-time commissioner who is a ranking public official, commissioners who do not serve full time, a secretariat and the EBDC. The secretariat is headed by a director general, and has four divisions. The 251 Gu/Si/Gun ECs are members of the commission and have a secretariat. The members of Gu/Si/Gun commissions do not serve full time.