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Presidential elections in South Korea determine who will serve as the President of South Korea for the next five years (formerly four, six, and seven).
Since the establishment of the First Republic in 1948, the presidential elections have taken place 20 times (19 excluding the March 1960 election whose results were invalidated after the April Revolution): in 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960 (in March and August), 1963, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017.
Prior to the Presidential Election Act of 1987, the elections were indirect. Since 1987, the president is elected directly by the public in a single round plurality vote (using the first-past-the-post simple plurality system) for a single, non-renewable five-year term.
The presidential election rules are defined by the South Korean Constitution and the Public Official Election Act.
The election campaign period, as set by the Election Law, is short – 23 days. According to the book Internet Election Campaigns in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, the election campaign periods in Korea (23 days for presidential elections and 14 days for National Assembly elections) were made intentionally short in order to "prevent excessive campaign spending for long-running election campaigns and harmful effects from overheated elections", but, on the downside, "this works against new candidates who are not well known".
|President and Vice President elected indirectly by the National Assembly|
|1||1948||In the vice-presidential election, Yi Si-yeong (NARRKI) won over Kim Koo by 57.4% to 33.0%.|
|President and Vice President elected by popular vote|
|The election took place during the Korean War. In the vice-presidential election, independent Ham Tae-young won the election with 41.3%, defeating Liberal candidate Lee Beom-seok (25.5%) and Democratic Nationalist Chough Pyung-ok (8.1%).|
|In the vice-presidential election, Democratic Party candidate Chang Myon defeated Lee Ki-poong (Liberal) by 46.4% to 44.0%.|
|Rhee re-elected unopposed due to the death of his Democratic Party opponent Chough Pyung-ok. In the vice-presidential election, Lee Ki-poong (Liberal) won with 79.2% over Chang Myon (Democratic) with 17.5%. The results of both elections were annulled as fraudulent after the April Revolution.|
|President elected indirectly by both houses of the National Assembly; Vice Presidency abolished|
|The only presidential election of the Second Republic.|
|President elected by popular vote|
|First election after the May 16 coup.|
|President elected by the National Council for Reunification|
|8||1972||First election after the October Yushin. Park re-elected unopposed.|
|9||1978||Park re-elected unopposed.|
|First election after Park Chung-hee's assassination. Acting President Choi elected as President unopposed.|
|First election after the coup d'état of December Twelfth. Chun elected unopposed.|
|President elected indirectly|
|The only presidential election of the Fifth Republic.|
|President elected by first-past-the-post popular vote with single-term limit|
|13||1987||First free and fair direct presidential election in South Korean history. Also the first election to feature a female candidate.|
|19||2017||Held after the impeachment of Park Geun-hye.|
South Korea's political forms had been authoritarian during the Cold War and the first free and fair presidential election was held in 1987.