On July 5, 2019, KDI School organized a field trip for students to the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea located at Yeouido, Seoul. The National Assembly is the legislative arm of the Korean Government. It comprises 300 members, whose functions include but are not limited to approving the fiscal budget, deliberating legislative bills and related items, conducting discussions and negotiations with stakeholders and their representatives of negotiating groups and inspecting the running of the state administration.
Upon arrival, the students were led to a guided tour of the National Assembly Library. According to the tour guide, the National Assembly Library was established in 1952 at Busan during the Korean War and later relocated to its current location in Seoul in 1975. The library houses about 5 million works, including their proud collection of Master’s and Doctorate theses located on the first floor. The library has also digitized many of the books to enable patrons to access them remotely and at designated stations including the KDI School library. The library maintains and displays an extensive collection of art (sculptures, paintings, and various other artifacts) by Korean artists. The tour guide explained that the aim of the library’s collections is to create a space wherein the public can interact with policies and their evolution. The library is open for anyone aged 16 and above.
Following the National Assembly Library tour, students settled for lunch at the IFC Mall. Next, they proceeded to the National Assembly Memorial Hall to view the inspiring and admirable historical memorabilia of the National Assembly’s significant events. This session included the portraits of all past Speakers of the House that are displayed in the Speakers’ Hall.
Lastly, the students had another guided tour of the main building of the National Assembly. Completed in 1975 after six years of construction, the building and its design blend traditional Korean architecture with modern architecture. The Korea National Assembly Building is regarded as the biggest single assembly building in Asia. The students had the opportunity to see the plenary chamber where the laws of South Korea are debated and enacted. The tour guide shed light on the sitting arrangements in the chamber and the reasons behind those arrangements. An interesting detail shared by the tour guide was that the senior members sit at the back and the newly-elected ones sit in front, for privacy and popularity respectively. She also narrated interesting information on the advanced technology used in the National Assembly. For example, all its proceedings and documents dating back to their first-ever session are digitized and using a very secured electronic means of voting on bills.