Korea Observes Constitution Day Amid Calls for Amendment

Jay Yim, July 17, 2018, 9:23 a.m.

Korea celebrates its 70th Constitution Day on Tuesday to mark seven decades since the nation formally adopted its first constitution. It has been amended nine times with each revision reflecting another step toward democracy.

In 1972, then-strongman Park Chung-hee changed the constitution to allow indirect presidential elections, and in 1980, it was revised to adopt a seven-year, single-term presidency under ex-President Chun Doo-hwan under the military junta. But the democratic movement in June of 1987 brought the dictatorship to an end, and the constitution was once again amended, this time to allow direct presidential elections and a five-year, single-term presidency.

Lately, there have been calls for a revision, and President Moon Jae-in expressed hopes that the process would be held simultaneously with local elections in June. But opposition from numerous lawmakers scuttled the plan.

In Korea, constitutional amendment requires the support of more than two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly before it can be put to a national referendum.

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