Judicial Lawmaking and the Influence of Comparative Law
Studies in Comparative Law and Legal Culture series
Edited by John O. Haley and Toshiko Takenaka
Chapter 4.2: Corporate law and corporate law scholarship in Korea: A comparative essay
Korea’s stellar economic performance during the last four decades of the 20th century is well known and widely admired. Other segments of Korean society have been moving forward in step with its economic progress. Not only cars and smart phones, but also movies and pop singers symbolize the elevated status of Korea in the global market. Korea’s corporate law, however, largely lagged behind the business sector. Its corporate statutes played no significant role until the end of the last century. The situation, however, changed dramatically as the country fell into a financial crisis in 1997. The crisis was, for better or worse, generally regarded as a consequence of Korea’s poor corporate governance. Under pressure from international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the Korean government embarked on improving corporate governance by, among other things, revamping its corporate statutes. The post-crisis corporate law reforms advanced the relevance of corporate law in the business community, and, in turn, contributed to a rapid growth of corporate law practice. In the process, however, corporate law scholars have played no significant role, as discussed later. On the contrary, corporate law scholarship has been influenced by these developments. The purpose of this chapter is to review the transformation of corporate law in Korea during the last two decades from a comparative perspective. The term “corporate law” here is used in a broader sense, encompassing the capital market law.
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