South Korean Legal System

Table of Contents in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia

South Korean Legal System in Asia

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South Korean Legal System in Asia

Legal Research in South Korea: a Guide for Lawyers

In a globalized world, lawyers outside South Korea may come into contact with South Korean law, South Korean lawyers or South Korean clients, and the last would be better served when their lawyers have an understanding of the essential characteristics and aspects of the South Korean legal system. Likewise, in researching South Korean law, it is important for non-South Korean lawyers not to limit their inquiry to their country sources. In addition, instead of looking for precedents, in South Korea lawyers browse first the provisions of the corresponding legislation for an appropriate legal principle applied to the case or South Korean law problem.

Any serious legal issue involving South Korea must require consultation with a lawyer trained and licensed in South Korea. International materials and resources, like this Encyclopedia, however, may provide some familiarity with the basic concepts of the South Korean law, a solid starting point and new perspectives and solutions that are not apparent, sometimes, from within a non-South Korean legal tradition. Their study may help the non-South Korean lawyer to determine the general nature of a problem, and can facilitate a better understanding with the South Korean colleague who may be called in to assist.

Where to Start

General Information about South Korea and their Legal Tradition

South Korea and their People

Read about South Korea and their People here.

Historical Background of South Korea

Overview of the history of South Korea.

Legal Education

Offering a summary of the legal education, including law schools , in South Korea.

Development of South Korean Law

Report on the development of the law in South Korea.

Structures of South Korean Law

It offers a description of the structures of the law in South Korea.

Sources of the South Korean Law

Summary of the sources of Law in South Korea.

Historical Background

More about the history of the South Korean law here.

Enacted Law in South Korea

Read more about the legislation in South Korea.

  • The South Korean Constitution

Learn more about the Constitution of South Korea.

  • South Korea Codes and Statutes

Survey of South Korean Codes and Statutes.

  • South Korea Statutory Decrees

Outline of the South Korea Statutory Decrees.

  • South Korea Regulations

Scope of the Regulations enacted in South Korea.

  • South Korea By-Laws

Observation about the By-Laws in existence in South Korea.

Customary Law

Learn more about the customary law of South Korea.

Case Law as a Source of Law

Analysis of the Case Law in South Korea.

Precedents in South Korea

Evaluation of the role of Precedents in the South Korean legal system.

Doctrine in South Korea

Review of the legal Doctrine in South Korea.

International sources of law

See more about the international sources of law in South Korea and Asia, including International Treaties.

The South Korean Government System

Study of the Government system in existence in South Korea.

South Korean Constitutional Structure

Overview of the Constitutional Structure in South Korea.

Historical Background

Read more about the history of the Government System of the country.

General Characteristics of the Constitution

Constitution of South Korea: the main features.

Human Rights in South Korea

Scope of the Civil and Human rights in the country.

Legislative Branch

The legislative branch proposes laws. Find a description of the Legislative Power in South Korea here.

Structure of the South Korean Legislative Branch

Observation of the structure of the legislative power in South Korea.

Functions and Powers

See more about the role of the legislative power in South Korea here.

Legislative Process

Read how the South Korean legislative procedures work here.

Supervision of the Executive

Learn how the legislative branch supervises the executive branch.

Executive Branch

The executive power proposes laws. Read more.

Head of State in South Korea

The head of state of South Korea is the formal head of the executive, legislature and judiciary of South Korea.

Head of Government in South Korea

The head of government in South Korea is the Prime Minister of South Korea, the political leader of the government of South Korea.

South Korean Council of Ministers

See information about the Cabinet Ministers of South Korea here.

South Korean Local Governments

Review of the local government powers in South Korea. See the definition of local rule here.

Local Organizations of Central Administration

The central administration consists of a number of ministries and other organizations, including local ones. Various departments, offices and divisions are established in each ministry in South Korea. See the definition of centralization here.

South Korean Municipalities

Outlook of the cities, towns, villages and other communities, including municipal courts (when applicable), and their legal authority in South Korea.

Judiciary Branch

The judiciary power interprets and applies laws. Find here a review of the Judicial System in South Korea.

Main Features of the Judiciary

Read the most important characteristics of the Judiciary system in South Korea here.

South Korea Judicial Structure

Report of the Court Organization and Jurisdiction in South Korea.
The Courts in South Korea may be divided into:

  • High Courts

Description of the functioning of high courts in South Korea.

  • Lower Courts

Summary of the roles of courts of lesser rank.


Information about rules that influence sentencing in South Korea.

Participants in the Administration of Justice

Survey about the players in the Administration of Justice in South Korea and other countries.


Information about the impartial administration of justice, the independence and status of the judiciary and other issues related to Judges in South Korea.

Public Prosecutors

The role of those government officials who represent, in South Korea, legal authorities (often prosecuting criminal actions in South Korea and Asia).

The practice of law

More about the practice of law in South Korea and Asia.

The legal professions

Outline of the legal professions in South Korea and Asia.

Practitioners (Lawyers and others)

Learn about the legal role of practitioners, specially lawyers.

Notary-Public in South Korea

Overview about Public Notaries practising in South Korea.

Court reporter – Clerks

Overview of Court reporters and Clerks in South Korean and Asian courthouses.

Civil Law Procedure

Outlook of the main features of the South Korean civil process, including:

Pretrial Proceedings in South Korea

Information about what pretrial proceedings consist of.

The Trial in South Korea

Review of the judicial examinations in civil or criminal actions in South Korea.

Civil Litigation

Overview of the steps of litigation in South Korea, the litigator’s role and the types of civil litigation in the country here.


Evidence law outline in South Korea.

The Judgment

Outlook of the tribunal decisions in South Korea. For Judgments which are of significance as legal precedents on points of law in South Korea, see precedents.

The Effect of the Judgment

Overview of effects and recognition of a valid judgment delivered by a court of competent jurisdiction in South Korea.

Legal Remedies in South Korea

Enforcement of a legal right ordered by the court. See also the Judicial Relief definition.

Appeals – Judicial Review

Description of the Appeals process and the Judicial Review process of challenging the lawfulness of decisions in South Korea.

Criminal Law Procedure

Observation of the Criminal Process.

The Investigation of Crime

Scope of the investigation of crimes:

The Prosecution of Crime

Crime Prosecution.

Criminal Trials in South Korea

Laws and rules of the administration of justice when a person has been accused of a crime.

Appeals – Judicial Review

When a party files an appeal, asking to review the case:

Alternative Dispute Resolution in South Korea

Method of resolving disputes out-of-court (ADR).

Private Law

Family Law in South Korea

Guide to Marriage Law, Succession Law and other Family Law topics in South Korea.

Contract Law in South Korea

Contracts Law outline in South Korea.

Tort Law in South Korea

Regulating claims by civil wrongs that result in an injury or harm.

Property Law in South Korea

Real property and Personal property law in South Korea.

Copyright and Industrial Property

Survey of industrial and intellectual property laws in South Korea.

Foreign Trade

Regulation of Foreign Trade in South Korea and Asia.

Business Law in South Korea

Besides commercial law and the law of corporations and other entities, this guide provides comprehensive information about:

Criminal Law in South Korea

Penal law involves prosecution for a crime in South Korea and Asia. Find out more.

Family Law in South Korea

Family legal issues including:

  • Divorce and separation
  • Child protection, custody, support and access
  • Adoptions
  • Property Division

Public Law

More about Public Law here.

Administrative Law

Report of the branches of the Administrative law, including Environmental law.

Administrative Processes

Administrative Processing in South Korea and Asia.


Taxation in South Korea explained.

Labor Law

Overview of the labor law and social security in South Korea.

Asia Legal Systems

Further Resources

History of the South Korean Legal System

The South Korean legal tradition has been shaped by many different influences, domestic as well as foreign. More than one different legal system has coexisted in South Korea at various points in the long country history. The Portal of South Korean law provides introductory entries about the background and history of the law of the country.

South Korea Law Portal

The South Korea Law Portal provides an introductory overview of the history of legal development in South Korea, major legal concepts, the structure of South Korean government, the South Korean judicial and court system, and peculiar characteristic of the response of the South Korean legal system to development in South Korea.

The South Korea Portal presents the main areas of its legal system and the wider aspects of how law is made and reformed. The entries of the South Korea Law Portal include consideration of the primary features of the South Korean legal system, including the South Korean legal history, South Korean judicial structure and operation, the South Korean Constitution and the legislative and administrative structure and process. The contents of the South Korea Portal also include discussion of South Korean legal actors (including South Korean lawyers), legal education, judges and other participants in the South Korean legal landscape.

The Portal introduces legal professionals, students and the general reader to terms and concepts necessary for understanding the South Korean legal system, the jurisdiction, organization and authority of courts in South Korea, and the South Korean judicial interpretation and decision-making. The substantive areas of law such as public law, torts and product liability, property (including intellectual property rights and copyright infringements), and family law are also covered. The Portal also treats the law governing the main business legal topics: contracts, business regulation, companies and taxation. It also examines the civil, criminal and administrative processes, the procedural rights, main court opinions and the various modes of alternative dispute resolution available in South Korea.

Useful to the reader of the Encyclopedia as a reference, the Portal provides a table of cases, indices provides even greater detail, a glossary of selected legal terms and many entries provide bibliographies for further reading.

Comparative Law and Legal Systems in Asia

One of the goals of the comparative law is to wrap up the similarities and differences among countries, including South Korea. the different legal traditions in Asia and could be able thereby better to understand the South Korean law. to the reception of legal systems in South Korea and other countries of Asia, with special reference to the reception of foreign law (specially English law and Islamic law) by these countries.

The Asian Encyclopedia of Law provides a survey of the legal systems of almost all the Asian jurisdictions. Being the Encyclopedia a work in progress, the length of the entries may vary considerably. Each country section includes a description of their major subject areas of law, notes on the main compilations (or official codifications), a detailed listing of legislation covering specific topics and resources for enacted laws and judicial decisions (including references to further online sources).

Conclusion about the Legal System of South Korea

A good comprehension of the South Korean legal system requires knowledge and skill in a number of disciplines. The South Korean system itself is the result of developments in law, economy, politics, sociological change and the theories which feed all these bodies of knowledge. The law or South Korea may be relevant in a foreign jurisdiction court proceeding involving international transactions. The Knowledge of the South Korean traditions and its legal institutions allows a good understanding of the South Korean law, its institutions and processes and sets the South Korean law and system in a social context.

This guide introduces some of the main procedural and substantive South Korean principles, with a more detailed treatment of resources in the major subject areas of the South Korean law, with access to primary materials.

The general reader and students may learn some basic legal concepts and principles of the South Korean law, to explain how the South Korean legal system operates, and to provide a sense of how the systems within South Korea have evolved historically in South Korea from its origins.

A globally focused guide like this site, including the legal concepts and principles of Asia, cannot
avoid taking many culture-specific elements into account.

About the Author

Salvador Trinxet Llorca is a law writer, professor and lawyer specialized in comparative and international law.

See Also

References and Further Reading

  • Introduction to the Law and Legal System of Korea
  • Asian legal systems: law, society, and pluralism in East Asia, Poh-Ling Tan
  • Philanthropy and law in Asia: a comparative study of the nonprofit legal systems in ten Asia Pacific societies, Thomas Silk
  • Law and legal institutions of Asia: traditions, adaptations and innovations, E Ann Black; Gary F Bell
  • Law, capitalism and power in Asia: the rule of law and legal institutions, Kanishka Jayasuriya
  • Asia-Pacific legal development, Douglas M Johnston and Gerry A Ferguson
  • Modern legal systems cyclopedia, Kenneth R Redden and William Emerson Brock
  • Constitutionalism in Asia: Asian views of the American influence, Lawrence Ward Beer
  • The judicialization of politics in Asia, Björn Dressel
  • East Asian Law: Universal Norms and Local Cultures
  • Law, Capitalism and Power in Asia: The Rule of Law and Legal Institutions
  • Doing Business in Asia (updated regularly)
  • Copyright Law and the Information Society in Asia
  • Insolvency Law in East Asia
  • Intellectual Property Law in Asia
  • A Legal Guide to Doing Business in the Asia-Pacific
  • Legal Reform in Korea
  • Commercial Laws of the World: Korea
  • Doing Business with Korea
  • Intellectual Property Law in Korea
  • International Finance in Korea
  • Tax Laws of the World : Korea
  • Korea’s Banking Law Reform: Post Asian Crisi


  • Asia-Pacific Development Journal
  • Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law
  • Asian Law Journal
  • Journal of Korean Law
  • Korean Journal of International and Comparative Law


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