Participation of Minorities

South Korea is one of the ethnically homogeneous countries and more than 92% of the citizens are living in the urban areas. The immigrants in the country are from the People’s Republic of China, United States of America (U.S), Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. The Chineses population is 50% of the Foreign-Born population, the U.S. is 7.6%, the Vietnemese is 7.2%, Thai is 5.2% and other minorities and immigrants are about 29 % of the foreign-born population in the country. According to the National Election Commission of South Korea and the article 15 of the Public Official Election Act, the non-korean citizens who have passed the three years after obtaining a permanent residency visa can vote for only the nationwide simultaneous local elections.

The total registered voters for the 21st National Assembly Election in 2020 is 43,994,247 among the total population of 51,835,110. Among them the disability population consists of 7,367,279 in South Korea. The country had also ratified the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2008. The country also has several  laws to protect and grant the rights of persons with disabilities. For instance,

The Anti-Discrimination against and Remedies for Persons with Disabilities Act.

Although the Election Commission has a good implementation of arrangement for the group of disabilities people, the candidates are normally silent on disability issues. There is the “South Korea’s Public Official Election Act” which aims to promote the participation of all types of voters especially the Persons with Disabilities in the elections. The  Election acts are amended in 2010 and the act concerning rights to election are as follows;

(i) Article 37 of Public Official Election Act stated that each local administrative district has the responsibility to process the voter lists based on  the National Resident Registration System.

(ii)  Article 38 also clearly states that the people who cannot move freely or suffer from serious physical disability and those who stay at the hospital or nursing home can apply for the voting at their residence.

(iii) Based on the second paragraph of Article 72, the campaign of candidates should have not only the speeches but also the sign language or caption to express for the disabilities electors.

(iv) Article 82 (2)  of paragraph 12, the Election Debate Broadcasting Committee of each level have to hold the interviews or debates with the sign language interpretation for the hearing impaired electors.

(v) Based on Article 149 of paragraph 1, the head of any of hospital, sanitarium, asylum, prison, or detention center, and residential facility for disabled persons should report the name and location of the institution and the number of persons for polling at the abode to the competent Gu/Si/Gun election commission by not late than 3 days after the end of the period set for the preparation of the electoral register.

(vi) Article 151 of paragraph 7,  the Gu/Si/Gun election commission may make and use a special ballot paper or voting aid as prescribed by the National Election Commission Regulations for the elector who is unable to record his/ her vote in person due to a visual impairment.

(vii) Article 157 of paragraph 6, for the person who is unable to cast their vote for him/herself due to a visual or physical impairment, he/she has the right to nominate two persons or his/her family members.

The Election Commission ensures facilities for Persons with Disabilities by ensuring polling stations are placed on the ground level, installing temporary polling booths at the entrance of a polling stations above ground level, furnishing the entrance of a polling station with temporary ramps for motorized scooters (wheelchairs), and installing special polling booths to make it accessible for motorized scooters (wheelchairs) to enter polling booth.


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