News
 International
 National
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Business
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Taekwondo
 Media
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 Cartoons/Comics/Humor
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Life
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Housing
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 Job
 English Teaching
 Translation/Writing
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Business
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Entertainment
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Community
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 PenPal/Friendship
 Volunteers
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  National
Past & Present: 5
Korean Local Government Has Matured, Reflecting Shift to Democracy
By Alan Timblick
President of The Seoul Times
Mr. Chung Mong-Jun

With local government elections due to be held on June 4, it is an appropriate time to look at the structure and history of local administration.

When the Republic was established there was great interest in the idea of Local Autonomy.

Throughout the Chosun Dynasty government was very centralized.

Those in charge of administering in the towns, villages and provinces were appointed by the government and dispatched for a set period to rule in the name of the Royal Court.

In 1949 the new government of President Rhee Syngman passed the Local Autonomy Law, which is still the basis of the system we have today. It provided for a two-stream administration of Executive and Consultative, the latter in the form of Councils.

However, for most of the years up until 1995 the elective process for voting in Executives and Councils was suspended. In 1991 elections for local councils were held but it was not until 1995 that direct popular voting for the Chief Executives of local government units was re-instated.

Since then a four-year cycle of local elections has been maintained. Both Executives and Councils sit for a four-year term.

Local government units are categorized as Upper and Lower level. There are sixteen Upper Level and two hundred and thirty two Lower Level classes.

The former consist of eight Provinces and a ninth self-governing Province (Jeju) together with one Special City or TukByeolShi (Seoul) and six Metropolitan Cities or GwangYeokShi.

All of the Chief Executives and Councils for the Upper Level administrative units are elected by popular ballot. But for the Lower level the smallest units do not have councils and their administrative officers are appointed by the next level up.

From 2006 even foreigners who have permanent residence status (F5 visa-holders) have been eligible to vote in such local elections.

There are several categories and they differ depending on whether the place is an urban or a rural environment. To qualify as a City, or Shi, a minimum population of one hundred and fifty thousand is required. Below that the area is called a Gun or County.

Within a City there may be several districts of boroughs, called Gu. In the case of a County the respective subdivision may be either a Town or Eub, which needs a minimum population of twenty thousand, or a Myeon – a Township – where there should be at least six thousand inhabitants.

The smallest administrative areas are, in the case of a City, a Dong, which has its own Office or Dong Samuseo, and in the County, a Ri or village. There is an even smaller subdivision in the urban areas, called a Tong or a Ga, but this barely survived in usage except as an indication of address – hence Chong-ro Il, I, Sam, Sa and Oh-ga, for example.



Related Articles
    Joseph J. Day MBE Dies of Cancer in Seoul
    "S. Korea Not Backward But President Is!"
    bRexit: a Denial of History
    An Open Letter to Mayor Park Won-Soon!
    Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon Meets Foreigners
    Town Meetings for Foreign Residents of Seoul
    Protection of Diplomats
    "Valentine's Day"
    The Solution to Learning English
    Hangeul: A Reassessment
    King Sejong and Hangeul
    War Becomes Real in Clint Eastwood's True ...
    An Ode to the People of Korea
    "The Unbroken"
    Strong Won or Weak Dollar?
    Baloons, Drones, Satire, and Free Speech
    "International Market (Ode to My Father)," ...
    Terror as Tool of Censorship
    A Very Happy New Year 2015!
    None of My Business
    The Annals of the Chosun Dynasty
    The Catholic Martyrs of Korea
    Meaningless Slogans
    Bridges over the Han River: A Tale of Two ...
    Democracy in Action in Seoul
    An Open Letter to Administrator of Cultural ...
    Jeongneung Royal Tomb
    Seo Jai Pil, Founder of “The Independent”
    WTO Head Proud of Bali Agreement
    Korean "Oxbridge" Forum Inaugurated in Seoul
    The Waters of Seoul -- Han River
    "How We Will Remember You"
    Kim Gu, Independence Fighter
    Seoul Subway Forces Senior Expats to Subsidize ...
    Syngman Rhee, 1st President of Republic of ...
    Ernest Bethell -- Champion of a Free Press
    Homer Hulbert – A Foreign Korean Patriot
    Korea's Own "Mini Winter Olympics"
    Happy "Valentine's Day"
    Cheongwadae -- A Blue-Hued Power House
    Bangkok Shutdown? Hardly!
    US Vice President Biden Speaks in Seoul
    The Annals of Kings and Presidents
    Cultural Values in Korea
    Of Dukes and Hazard
    State Visit -- Tripping the Light Fantastic
    Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon Awards Honorary ...


Alan Timblick serves as President of The Seoul Times. He grew up in England, graduated from Oxford University, and has lived in Seoul for over three decades. A former banker, he also worked for the Korean government as head of Invest Korea and for Seoul City as head of the Seoul Global Center.

 

back

 

 

 

The Seoul Times Shinheungro 25-gil 2-6 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 02-555-6188 Email:seoultimes@gmail.com
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange