On July 16, 1956, Korea's foremost legal professionals gathered at the Supreme Court Conference Room located in Seosomun, Seoul.
Here, they conducted a general meeting for the establishment of the Korean Society of Law (hereinafter “the Society”) and established its articles of association. On July 31, the Minister of Justice granted permission to establish the Korean Society of Law (Ministry of Justice Announcement No. 38). More than 60 years after its establishment, the Society today is the only comprehensive collective of legal professionals in the Republic of Korea consisting of judges, prosecutors, lawyers, military judges, military prosecutors, law practitioners, and law professors. With the enactment of the Korean Legal Center Promotion Act* [Act No. 8323 issued on March 29, 2007] and the Enforcement Decree of the Korean Legal Center Promotion Act [Presidential Decree No. 20285 issued on September 27, 2007], the Society actively seeks to protect and foster legal professions in Korea, and contributes to the country’s development by promoting the gathering of legal professionals, foreign exchange, and research activities.
* The Korean Society of Law was previously known as The Korean Legal Center.
Purpose Behind Establishing the Korean Society of Law Korea was in dire need of democratic rule of law and the establishment of a modern legal system. Further, the country was caught in a transitional phenomenon. The Korean legal system was based on the Chinese system and its founding theories. Most legal professionals at the time did not have the resources to familiarize themselves with the Anglo-American legal system, an adversarial system compared to the existing system at the time. The traditional Chinese legal system is at times incompatible with concrete facts. By integrating Anglo-American and other foreign law that emphasized concrete validity, there was potential to create a holistic Korean legal system based on law and order. With the support of our American peers, the Korean Society of Law was established as a joint research organization by and in support of Korean legal professionals.
60 Years of History Being a group of legal professionals in Korea whose members are from academic and non-academic circles, the Society has led the development and globalization of judicial administration and legal culture in several ways. It established the information provision of legal libraries, offers lectures on topics like Anglo-American law, created specialized law societies, organizes academic symposia, and publishes Korean law in English. It also publishes "The Justice", organizes the international exchange of legal professionals, arranges overseas education programs, and acknowledges noteworthy juridical papers.
Moving forward We now look ahead to the next 50 years. Despite the dramatic growth of the judicial system in Korea, there are still many areas that require improvement. The debate on judicial reform continues. In order to increase public confidence in the judicial system and become a frontrunner in implementing the rule of law, the introduction of advanced legal systems as well as predictability, transparency, and legal stability must be paramount in all legal proceedings. Moreover, efforts are necessary to further elevate public consciousness regarding the rule of law by establishing fairness and strictness in law enforcement. Historically, the globalization of Korean law has arisen from the introduction of an Anglo-American legal system to a legal framework based on Chinese law. It is now necessary to reflect on the inherent values of our legal system, particularly those aspects that may serve as examples to developing countries.