Law and Society in Korea

Law and Society in Korea

Elgar Korean Law series

Edited by Hyunah Yang

The contributors examine societal and historical conditions that are reflected in – or that were shaped by – the law, through a variety of lenses; including law and development, law and politics, colonialism and gender, past wrongdoings, public interest lawyering, and judicial reform. In dismantling the historical specificity of the way in which Korea studies are universally framed, the contributions provide novel views, theories and information about South Korean law and society.

Chapter 5: The normative phenomenon of public sector in Korean society

Jeong-Oh Kim

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, law - academic, asian law


Korean society has tried to establish the rule of law for the last 60 years. Most legal scholars and social scientists have been concerned that Korean people are not sufficiently conscious of their legal rights and are therefore too passive to protect and exercise those rights (Hahm, 1986). But the recent tendency of the general public’s attitude toward its legal rights shows that the situation has been changing radically. Korean people have become active in relying upon the law and legal system for their rights. Today, researchers are rather worried about the exceedingly high level of people’s assertion of their rights. One of the premises of the liberal legal system, which is the most typical one of the rule of law, is that even though the members of a society are primarily concerned with their own self-interest, those behaviors are strictly dependent on the legal system. However, the other side of the rule of law is to respect the other’s right as much as his/her own right. While the private sector is the main area in which right holders exercise their rights, the public sector is the one in which each person respects the other’s right and respects public interests. Then, are the Korean people as active in respecting the other’s right in the public sector as much as in exercising their own rights in the private sector? The major purpose of this article is to analyze the normative phenomenon observed in the public sector of Korean society.

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