There are four permanent exhibition halls on two floors at the museum.
The recommended viewing order begins with Exhibition Halls 1 and 2 on the second floor and then moves on to Exhibition Halls 3 and 4 on the first floor.
The National Assembly Experience Hall provides a venue for tour orientation, in which visitors can better understand the exhibits of the Museum and experience the voting process of the Assembly’s plenary session in an environment reminiscent of the Plenary Chamber.
Hall of Parliament
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The Provisional Assembly,
the Beginning of Democracy
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Footsteps of the National
Assembly for Democracy
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National Assembly and the
Maturity of Democracy
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the People’s Voice
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The venue for the tour orientation features an environment reminiscent of the Plenary Chamber of the National Assembly under the theme of “National Assembly, Hall of Parliament”.
The promotional video helps visitors better understand the work of the legislative body by introducing them to the functions and roles of the National Assembly, while they can experience the voting system of the Assembly’s plenary session, the core function of the legislative body.
Under the theme of “The Provisional Assembly, the Beginning of Democracy”, the hall features relics and materials related to the substantial achievements of the Provisional Assembly, which was convened in Shanghai, China after the March First Independence Movement, and the lives of independence activists.
The Provisional Assembly convened its first session on April 10, 1919. In a session that continued until 10 a.m. the next day, its members adopted a new name for the Assembly and the country―the Provisional Assembly and the Republic of Korea, while electing Lee Dong-nyeong and Son Jeong-do as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Assembly, respectively. The ideal of a “democratic republic”, which was resolved in the first session of the Assembly, was enshrined in the Provisional Charter of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, the nation’s first constitution based on the principle of democracy, as well as in the Constitution of the Republic of Korea today.
After leaving Shanghai in 1932, the Provisional Assembly moved across Chinese cities such as Zhenjiang, Hangzhou, Jiaxing, Nanjing and Qijiang for the next eight years, traveling around 6,000 kilometers, and finally reached Chongqing in 1940. The days on the road were long and arduous. Amidst such extraordinary circumstances, however, the Provisional Assembly continued its activities, centered around standing committees.
In September 1940, the Provisional Government set up an office in Chongqing. The booming hub in Sichuan Province boasted convenient access to transportation, and thus the Chinese Nationalist government selected it as a temporary capital when declaring its long-term war against Japan. The Provisional Assembly convened a meeting at the new office in the city―the final battlefield along the road to independence for Korea.
The independence activists belonging to the Provisional Assembly were able to squarely face struggles in everyday life thanks to their families, who stood by them while walking along the same path. The exhibits shed light on the lives of independence activists and their families, who were of one heart and mind in seeking independence for their country.
Under the theme of “Footsteps of the National Assembly for Democracy”, this exhibition showcases artifacts and materials that shed an objective light on the legislative activities of the 1st-12th National Assemblies (9th amendment to the Constitution), coupled with major events related thereto in the modern history of Korea in chronological order.
On May 31, 1948 at 10a.m., the historic first plenary session of the Constituent Assembly convened at the Capitol Building (the Japan Government-General of Korea Building during the Japanese colonial period) with 198 members in attendance.
At the first plenary session, Rep. Rhee Syngman was elected as the first chairman of the Constituent Assembly, and Rep. Shin Ik-hee and Kim Dong-won were elected as the first vice chairmen.
After liberation, the Constituent Assembly established several institutional frameworks necessary for the founding of the nation and government during its relatively short term of two years, despite difficult circumstances such as the confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union over the Korean Peninsula and conflicts between domestic political factions. On July 17, the Constitution of the Republic of Korea was enacted, and the government of the Republic of Korea was formulated by electing the President and Vice President based on the votes of the Assembly members in accordance with the procedure set forth in the Constitution.
In addition, the National Assembly Act, Government Organization Act, Local Government Administrative Act, Act on the Organization of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, Local Autonomy Act, Election of National Assembly Members Act, and State Public Officials Act were enacted for the state’s operation.
The 2nd Assembly members were elected at an election held for the first time according to the Election of National Assembly Members Act, which was enacted by the Constituent Assembly. Immediately after the Assembly was convened, however, the Korean War broke out. The Assembly strived to put in place legislative and budgetary measures to support the ongoing military conflict, maintenance of public order and stability, protection of the people, and recovery from war damage. During the war, the first amendment was made to the Constitution. In July 1952, when the Assembly was evacuated to Busan, a compromise revision, also known as “the excerpt amendment”, was passed, combining the government's draft proposing a direct presidential election and bicameral parliament and the Assembly’s version proposing a parliamentary system and unicameral parliament.
The 3rd National Assembly convened in May 1954 and strived to serve its vested role as the legislative body of government, such as through enacting the Civil Act. Then, the ruling Liberal Party declared that the second revision of the Constitution had passed based on the mathematical rounding-off principle. The motion was made by the government and ruling party to lift the ban on serving three consecutive terms only for the first President Rhee Syngman.
The 4th National Assembly was formulated in May 1958, five years after the ceasefire of the Korean War. At the time, the ruling Liberal Party and the government resorted to every means possible, legal and illegal, to win the presidential and vice-presidential elections on March 15, 1960 in order to prolong its regime. The confrontation intensified between the ruling and opposition camps. Amidst political conflict, the April 19th Revolution began in the aftermath of the corrupt election on March 15. Afterwards, the Assembly opened a new chapter in its history by passing the third constitutional amendment to introduce a parliamentary system.
The 5th Assembly consisted of 233 members of the House of Representatives and 58 members of the House of Councilors. At the same time, as the parliamentary system was introduced for the first time in the history of the Republic of Korea, the legislative body assumed greater political power and a larger role than it had before. The Assembly elected Yun Posun as President and Chang Myon as Prime Minister. The elected Prime Minister formed a cabinet, leading to the birth of the Second Republic.
The Assembly determined and resolved to clean up the political mess left behind by the previous government and establish a new political and social order, such as prosecuting individuals linked to the corrupt election on March 15, pro-Japanese and anti-national collaborators, and illegal fortune makers.
However, political instability ensued following the inauguration of the cabinet, which was mainly attributable to the transition towards unfamiliar political system. In the end, a military coup took place on May 16, 1961. Barely nine months into its term, the 5th Assembly, coupled with the cabinet, was dissolved.
The 6th Assembly was forged in December 1963, two years and seven months after the 5th Assembly was dissolved due to the May 16th military coup. The parliamentary system and bicameral parliament reverted to a presidential system and unicameral parliament, respectively. Starting from the 6th Assembly, the legislative branch’s operations began to hinge around standing committees instead of plenary sessions, and as a result, the National Assembly Secretariat has grown into a professional organization that supports lawmakers with information needed for their legislative activities.
The 7th Assembly convened in July 1967. It strived to break the political stalemate caused by fraudulent elections and stave off the President’s attempt to rewrite the Constitution for a third-term presidency. The Assembly enacted the Act on the Establishment of Reserve Forces and Act on the Agency for Defense Development to cope with security challenges at home and abroad and build up independent national defense capabilities.
The 8th Assembly was formed in July 1971 according to the amended Election of National Assembly Members Act after the election fraud for the 7th Assembly was revealed. The opposition New Democratic Party claimed more than a third of the seats, creating a relatively balanced two-party arrangement (Democratic Republican Party: 55.4%, New Democratic Party: 43.6%). Despite high expectations from citizens, the new Assembly failed to complete its statutory term of four years and came to an end about 15 months after being convened due to President Park Chung-hee's declaration of martial law.
As the 9th Assembly convened in March 1973, it took back the authority of the Emergency Cabinet Meeting. Elections for the 9th Assembly were held under the so-called Yushin―“revitalization and reform”―Constitution. The term of office was 6 years, and the number of seats was 219, consisting of 146 members elected by the people and 73 members elected by the National Conference for Unification upon nomination by the President. Meanwhile, the construction of the National Assembly Building, which started in July 1969, was completed in September 1975, and the so-called “era of Yeouido National Assembly” was inaugurated.
The 10th Assembly convened in March 1979. Amidst rapid economic development, protests and demonstrations continued to call for the end of the Yushin system, pushing for democracy. A notable case was the YH incident that occurred in the office of the New Democratic Party, which led to dismissal of Kim Young-sam, President of the New Democratic Party, from house membership. Afterwards, demonstrations led by students in Busan and Masan took place against the Yushin regime of President Park Chung-hee. The Yushin period came to an end on October 26, 1979 with the assassination of President Park. The Assembly set up a special committee to draft a Constitutional rewrite to revise the Yushin Constitution and repealed the No. 9 Presidential Emergency Decree that would arbitrarily ban people’s rights and freedom. However, as another military coup hit the country on December 12, 1979, the Assembly was dissolved and its Constitutional rewriting efforts came to a halt.
The 11th Assembly convened in April 1981. A proportional representation system was introduced in accordance with the revised Election Act. The number of seats was 276 with 184 for electoral districts and 92 for proportional representatives. The latter were allocated only to parties winning five seats or more in voting for constituencies, while two-thirds of the nationwide proportional seats were given to the party that claimed the largest number of seats in voting for constituencies. The system was truly biased toward the largest major party. In the 12th presidential election held during the term of the 11th Assembly, candidate Chun Doo-hwan of the Democratic Justice Party was elected President by amassing 90.2% of the electoral college votes.
The 12th Assembly convened in May 1985. In June 1987, a grassroot democracy movement across the country took place to curb the prolonged hold on power of the military government. The sacrifices of college students such as Park Jong-cheol and Lee Han-yeol sparked nationwide demonstrations calling for democracy. Overwhelmed by the mass uprising, Roh Tae-woo, representative of the ruling Democratic Justice Party, announced a special declaration of reforms (the June 29th Democratization Declaration) that would respect the aspirations of the people to elect a President under their own power, which President Chun Doo-hwan accepted without strings attached.
Under the theme of the “National Assembly and the Maturity of Democracy”, the exhibition hall showcases the efforts and achievements of the 13th-21st Assemblies.
The 9th Constitutional amendment was introduced in 1987, propelled by the aspirations of the people and the efforts of the Assembly members. At long last, institutional democracy became consolidated. Under the amendment, people could cast ballots for president, and the National Assembly was vested with greater power and authority.
The President's authority to dissolve the National Assembly and the limit on the number of annual session days were deleted. The annual parliamentary inspection of government departments and agencies was revived, and the President would henceforth appoint the justices of the Supreme Court with the consent of the National Assembly.
Therefore, the National Assembly opened a new chapter in truly performing its vested role as the legislative body of government in 1987.
The National Assembly has strived to consolidate democracy starting 1987 and onward. Exhibition Hall 3 sheds meaningful lights on the path that the Assembly has paved from the 13th Assembly until the presdent day for the sake of the maturationa of the nation’s democracy.
Under the theme of “Assembly Speaker, the People’s Voice”, this exhibition delves into the remarks and activities of former Speakers of the National Assembly. The Speaker is the representative and supreme organ of the house, elected by the Assembly, which is the representative body of the people.
The President, Speaker of the National Assembly, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court represent each of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. As the head of the legislative body, the Assembly Speaker maintains the order of the house, presides over sessions, and supervises legislative affairs.
The Speaker coordinates and collects different opinions of lawmakers, leading the Assembly with responsibility. In Korea, 26 Speakers have been elected from 1948 to 2022. The remarks of former Speakers on display help visitors contemplate the path that the National Assembly has taken thus far and its unrealized aspirations. The voices of former speakers provide a glimpse into the considerations that have determined the Assembly’s path.