The public Office Election Act
According to Article 47(3) of the Public Official Election Act, political parties should recommend not less than 50/100 of the candidates from among women and should recommend candidates falling under every odd number in order of the candidate roll from among women for the list of proportional representation elections. Under Article 47(4), any political party shall recommend not less than 30/100 of the total number of the candidates to run in the election for nationwide constituencies from among women. Additionally, there is a provision for other financial advantages to encourage gender equality in political parties that 10% of public funding to political parties must be used for ‘the political development of women’.
The participation of women in the political arena is a growing trend in the 21st century. For example, the percentage of women representation in the parliament increased from 5.9% in the 16th National Assembly of 2000 to 13% in the 17th National Assembly of 2004, which means that status and political empowerment of women has been increased. Parties that nominate female candidates for the national elections also receive subsidies according to Article 26.
The 2016 Women Participation in Election
In 2016, Korea’s National Assembly had 17% of women representatives (51 out of 300 members). However, a study organized by a group of former and current women politicians found that only 10.5 per cent of all 934 nominated candidates who ran for constituency seats were women. Among the 51 women who secured seats in the parliament, 25 of them were elected by proportional representation.
The 2020 Women Participation in Election
Even though South Korea is usually ranked the lowest in terms of gender equality among the developed worlds, a feminist party, known as “The Women’s Party” seeked parliamentary seats for the first time in the 2020 General Election. During the campaign period, the newly formed Women’s party has warned that South Korea’s poor record on sexual discrimination and violence risked being overlooked.
The Women’s party was expected to struggle to attract votes from the two major parties which were President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic party and the conservative United Future party, and also other smaller allies in order to attempt to win four of the 47 seats being contested through proportional representation in the 300-seat assembly. Actually, the two biggest parties could dominate the political scene and for the Women’s party, it was unlikely to attract male voters.
At the end, the Women’s Party was unsuccessful in its first attempts to be able to win four parliamentary seats in the April 15 poll. On the polling day, President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party won a landslide victory again and in its winning, the number of women participation reached to the highest number, 59 composing 19% of the whole assembly, who were elected into the 300-seat parliament, which was recognized as the highest ever female representation. According to the country’s electoral system, it traditionally favors major parties, but women’s rights groups still wanted to make a change to increase female political participation.
LINK : The Empowerment of Women in South Korea (Journal of International Affairs: 2014)
LINK : The South Korean election: a step forward for women (East Asia Forum: 2012)
LINK : First female president elected in South Korea (Concorn Monitor: 2012)
PDF : Women in Local Politics : The Korean Case (Mi-Kyung LEE, Member of the National Assembly/ FES)
PDF : Ten Years’ Experience of Gender Quota System in Korean Politics (SOH Eunyoung, GEMC Journal: 2011)