Established and proclaimed on July 17, 1948, the Founding Constitution stated in Chapter 5: "When the constitutionality of a law is at issue in a trial, the court shall request a decision of the Constitutional Committee, and shall rule according to the decision thereof." Also, it stated, "The Constitutional Committee shall be composed of five Supreme Court Justices and five members of the National Assembly, with the Vice President as the Chairman of the Committee." At the time, the jurisdiction of the Committee was limited to adjudication on the constitutionality of statutes. For adjudication on impeachment, there was a separate organ, the Court of Impeachment.
The Constitutional Committee was active for more than 10 years, but its activity was not significant, deciding on only six cases during its existence.
Among the decisions, it ruled that Agricultural Land Reform Act Article 18-1, 24-1 and that the Special measure Decree on Punishment of Crimes Under National Emergency Article 9-1 were unconstitutional.
In 1960, the Constitution¡¯s Article 8 provided for a separate Constitutional Court.
Three justices were to be appointed with terms of six years: three Justices were appointed by the President, three by the Supreme Court, and three by the National Assembly. Unlike the preceding Constitutional Committee, the Constitutional Court was to be set up as a permanent institution. The Constitutional Court¡¯s jurisdiction included adjudication on the constitutionality of statutes, final interpretation of the Constitution, adjudication on competence dispute, adjudication on dissolution of a political party, impeachment, and litigations involving the President, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Justices. However, the Constitutional Court was never formed due to the 5.16 coup d'etat which took place only a month after the enactment of Constitutional Court Act.
In 1962, the Constitution entrusted adjudication on the constitutionality of statutes, adjudication on dissolution of a political party, and election lawsuits to the Supreme Court. Impeachment was to be adjudicated by the Impeachment Committee, and there was no system to judge on competence disputes. The Supreme Court ruled that the National Compensation Law¡¯s provisional clause under Article 2-1, and the Court Organization Act Article 59-1 were unconstitutional. It confirmed the constitutionality of Military Criminal Law Article 47, National Compensation Law Article 3, and National Security Law Article 4-1, capital punishment in criminal law, and limiting the object of rape to women.
The Yusin Constitution and the Fifth Republic Constitution set up the Constitutional Committee once again. Although it was endowed with the jurisdiction to judge on constitutionality of statutes, impeachment, and dissolution of political party at the request of the courts, it was only in name, as no judgments were made during this period.
In response to the citizen¡¯s strong longing for democracy and assurance of basic rights, the ruling party and opposition party agreed to provide for the establishment of a Constitutional Court in the revised constitution, proclaimed on October 29, 1987. Finally in Chapter 6 Articles 111-113, it bestowed upon the Constitutional Court the adjudication on constitutionality of statutes, impeachment, dissolution of political party, competence disputes between government institutions or local and federal organs, and constitutional complaint.
On August 5, 1988, as provided in Article 113-3 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court Act was proclaimed, which outlined provisions needed for the organization and management of the Constitutional Court.
On September 15, 1988, the first nine Justices were appointed, and the Constitutional Court came into being for the first time in the history of Korea.
The current Constitution ascribes all jurisdictions regarding the Constitution to the Constitutional Court. In particular, the introduction of the constitutional complaint, a system developed in European countries such as Germany, which allows a citizen to complain directly to the Court on violation of basic rights, is a symbol of the constitutional sprit that emphasizes the peoples¡¯ basic rights, and is an important event in history of Korean constitutionalism.
From the Constitutional Court of Korea(2007)