Chapter 4: The Role of the Public Prosecutor in Korea: Is He Half-Judge?
4. The role of the public prosecutor in Korea: is he half-judge? Heekyoon Kim* I. INTRODUCTION The following comment, though not the result of an empirical survey, shows what ordinary people think of legal professionals: [N]eutrality had been associated primarily with judges and was thought to describe a trait that distinguishes judges from lawyers. The emerging notion of prosecutorial neutrality recalls the traditional conception of prosecutors as ‘quasi-judicial’ officers. It emphasizes the distinction between prosecutors and lawyers for private parties.1 To summarize roughly, the public does not care much about how lawyers act in public or out of sight because they are believed to be no more than surrogates for private parties. However, with regard to the behaviors of the quasi-judicial officers or judicial officers, taxpayers expect a lot: they hope that a judge would be neutral and that a prosecutor would be nearly as neutral as the judge. Korean prosecutors have recently been the key target of the governmentoriented reform project.2 They have been considered one of the most powerful legal professions in Korea for more than a half century after the emancipation from Japanese colonization. Reformers are complaining that the Korean prosecutors did not seem to be sufficiently neutral. They ‘have been criticized for their reluctance to investigate corruption cases involving powerful politicians or high-ranking government officials, or for their politically * Parts of this chapter were originally published as The Role of the Public Prosecutor in Korea: Is He Half-Judge?’ 6 Journal of Korean Law 163....
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