South Korea

Table of Contents in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia

South Korea in Asia

According to the work “Guide to Foreign and International Citations”, by the Journal of International Law and Politics (New York University School of Law):

South Korea is a republic comprised of nine Provinces (do) and seven Metropolitan
Cities (gwangyoksi). South Korea’s official language is Korean. Its legal system combines
elements of the civil and common law traditions, as well as Chinese classical thought.

The South Korean Constitution, adopted July 17, 1948, establishes the form of
government. Executive power is vested in the President, who is the head of state. Prosecutorial
authority belongs to the Executive. The President is directly elected by the people to a single
five-year term. The Government consists of the Prime Minister, who is the head, and State
Council. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President with consent of National Assembly.
Members of the State Council are appointed by the President based on the Prime Minister’s

Legislative power is vested in the unicameral National Assembly (Kukhoe). 243 of 299
Members of the National Assembly are directly elected by the people from single-member
districts. The remaining fifty-six Members are elected by the people on the basis of proportional
representation. All Members serve four-year terms.

Judicial power is vested in the courts, which include the Constitutional Court, the
Supreme Court, the High Courts, and the District Courts. The Constitutional Court reviews the
constitutionality of statutes and administrative acts and omissions upon referral from another
court or in a petition directly to the Constitutional Court. A two-thirds majority is needed to
declare legislation unconstitutional. Justices of the Constitutional Court are appointed by the
President based partly on nominations by the National Assembly and the Chief Justice of the

The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal. Justices of the Supreme Court are
appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly. District Courts include
Family Courts and Administrative Courts. Other specialized courts include the Patent Court, the
High Military Court, and the Ordinary Military Court. All cases can be appealed to the Supreme
Court although there are some legal restrictions.

Regional authorities have legislative, administrative, and taxing power over local matters.

East Korean Support Group History

A largely US Naval group, joined by HMS Triumph. Used for strikes against North Korea in 1950. UK ‘Firefly’ aircraft had limited range, so their choice of targets was limited. In September HMS Triumph played a small part in the covering force during the landings at Inchon that transformed the war.

Republic of (South) Korea Online Legal Resources


  • Constitution (National Assembly): In English.
  • Constitution (Ministry of Leglislation): In English.
  • Constitution (Universität Bern Institut fĂĽr Ă–ffentliches Recht): In English.


  • Comprehensive Legal Information Service System (Ministry of Legislation) (Korean and English). This website includes an on-line database of legislative information and court cases. Contains a variety of Acts, regulations, court cases, and books on jurisprudence. Information is searchable by word/phrase, subject term, amendment number, title, case number and more.
  • Economic laws on foreign investment in Korea.(Ministry of Legislation : Korea Legislation Research Institute): in English.
  • Kwanbo Kwanbo (Official Gazette). (The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs).
    Includes official notices on new laws, budget, presidential decrees, treaties, regulations, courts, elections, public notices, local government administration, etc. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has been responsible for publishing and distributing the Official Gazette since 1999. The full text of the issues is also available at Korea E-government portal site.
  • Law Korea ( (was Vision Of Information & Technology (VOIN))). Comprehensive database of Korean laws and regulations; current revised regulations; proposed legislation; treaties; cases, and free legal consultation services. This is free service, but requires a member registration. Searchable by keyword, date, case number, and referenced Acts.
  • Laws and Regulations (Korean Information Service) Contains a number of English texts of Korean legislation including foreign investment, immigration, customs, consumer protection, monopolies, financial laws, industrial property, labor laws, etc.
  • Legal Texts Website includes news and a very limited number of legal texts.(Ministry of Justice): In English and in Korean.

Laws by Subject

  • Economic (Ministry of Legislation): In English.
  • Environment Lists and summaries of laws (Ministry of the Environment): In English and in Korean.
  • Patent Act (Intellectual Property Office): In English.




  • Korean Legal Research (University of Washington School of Law): A very comprehensive Guide to doing research on Korean law.  Helpful in describing paper resources.
  • Index to Korean Legal Materials (Seoul National University Press): Index of articles, books and other materials from 1945 to 1998 in Korean.
  • Internet Legal Information Forum.
  • Bibliography of Asian Studies (Harvard only): Standard bibliographical tool for Western-language publications in the field of East, South, and Southeast Asian Studies.
  • Korea The Asian Development Bank provides a number of fact sheets, country reports, project summaries including legal initiatives and more. (Asian Development Bank).

Subscription Databases

  • Statutes of the Republic of Korea (Korean Legislation Research Institute): Only table of contents to paper publication.  Available full-text as a subscription service.

More South Korean Law Websites

Note: We linked the resources to in an effort to decrease the number of broken links cited.

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