The Spirit of Korean Law

Korean Legal History in Context


Editor: Marie Kim
This is the first book on Korean legal history in English written by a group of leading scholars from around the world. The chapters set forth the developments of Korean law from the Chosŏn to colonial and modern periods through the examination of codified laws, legal theories and practices, and jurisprudence. The contributors’ shared premise is that the evolution of Korean law can be best understood when viewed in terms of its interactions with outside laws. Each chapter integrates literature in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Western languages into comprehensive analyses to make up-to-date research available to readers both inside and outside Korea. This volume provides a solid framework from which to approach Korean legal history in the perspective of comparative legal traditions.

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Marie Seong-Hak Kim (J.D. 1994; Ph.D. 1991) is Professor of History at St. Cloud State University. She is the author of Law and Custom in Korea: Comparative Legal History (2012) and Michel de L’Hôpital: The Vision of a Reformist Chancellor during the French Religious Wars (1997).
The book impressively reflects academic values by examining extensive volumes of literature in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Western languages. It covers such themes as the impacts of Confucianism as rule, as well as colonial laws and customs codified in civil/penal codes and/or legal theories, practices, and jurisprudence. (...) The book’s contribution is interpretive, allowing us to understand law in Asia as part of global processes. It provides an important lens that helps make sense of distinct developments in particular times and places. Law, in Asia and elsewhere, is part of the contested construction of state power. Yukyong CHOE Asian Law and Society 4,2 (2017).
List of Contributors

Introduction: Searching for the Spirit of Korean Law
Marie Seong-Hak Kim

Part 1 Legal Codes and Institutions of the Chosŏn Dynasty

The Chosŏn Law Codes in an East Asian Perspective
Jérôme Bourgon and Pierre-Emmanuel Roux

Circulation of Law and Jurisprudence in Korea and China: Homicide and the Notion of Requital for Life
Frédéric Constant

Confucian Ideology and Legal Developments in Chosŏn Korea: A Methodological Essay
Anders Karlsson

Part 2 Law and the Legal System under Colonial Rule

The Rise of Korean Constitutional Thought (1875–1945): An East Asian Perspective
Noriko Kokubun

Can There Be Good Colonial Law? Korean Law and Jurisprudence under Japanese Rule Revisited
Marie Seong-Hak Kim

Legality or Legitimacy: Revisiting Debates on the Korea-Japan Annexation Treaties
Samuel Guex

Part 3 Law, Court, and Legal Reform in Modern Korea

The Making of the Constitution and the Civil Code in Postliberation Korea
Joon-Young Moon

The Role of the Constitutional Court of Korea in the Transition from Authoritarian to Democratic Rule
Justine Guichard

Korea and the Reform of the Northeast Asian Legal Complex
Tom Ginsburg

Anyone interested in Korean law, Korean history, East Asian legal history, and comparative legal traditions.