South Korea is governed under the constitution of 1987. The president, who is head of state, is popularly elected for a single five-year term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president. The unicameral legislature consists of the 299-seat National Assembly, whose members are popularly elected (245 directly, 54 on a proportional basis) for four-year terms. Administratively, South Korea is divided into nine provinces and seven metropolitan cities.
North Korea is governed under the constitution of 1948, which has been extensively revised. The chairman of the National Defense Commission is the nation's "supreme leader" and de facto head of state because the title of president was reserved for Kim Il Sung after his death. The premier, who is the head of government, is elected, unopposed, by the Supreme People's Assembly. The unicameral legislature consists of the 687-seat Supreme People's Assembly, whose members are popularly elected to five-year terms. Although nominally a republic governed by the Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea is actually ruled by the Korea Workers party, the North Korean Communist party. The ruling party approves a list of candidates who are generally elected without opposition. Administratively North Korea is divided into nine provinces and four municipalities.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.