Law and Custom in Korea

Law and Custom in Korea : Comparative Legal History

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This book sets forth the evolution of Korea's law and legal system from the Choson dynasty through the colonial and postcolonial modern periods. This is the first book in English that comprehensively studies Korean legal history in comparison with European legal history, with particular emphasis on customary law. Korea's passage to Romano-German civil law under Japanese rule marked a drastic departure from its indigenous legal tradition. The transplantation of modern civil law in Korea was facilitated by Japanese colonial jurists who created a Korean customary law; this constructed customary law served as an intermediary regime between tradition and the demands of modern law. The transformation of Korean law by the forces of Westernisation points to new interpretations of colonial history and presents an intriguing case for investigating the spread of law on a global level. In-depth discussions of French customary law and Japanese legal history also provide a solid conceptual framework suitable for comparing European and East Asian legal traditions.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 5 b/w illus. 2 tables
  • 1139534041
  • 9781139534048

Table of contents

1. Comparative reflections on the concepts of law and custom; 2. Law and legal culture under the Choson Dynasty; 3. Custom and legal reception: the Japanese precedent; 4. Legal reforms in protectorate Korea, 1905-10; 5. Colonial law and the legal system, 1910-45; 6. Colonial jurisprudence and the construction of Korean customary law; 7. The 'Japanese deviation': comparison of colonial customary law policies; 8. Customary law in modern Korea; 9. Conclusion: Korean law and custom in comparative perspective.
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Review quote

'In conclusion, although this book deals specifically with law and custom in Korea from a historical perspective, it is of general interest and should attract the attention of anyone who is interested in legal pluralism, law and society, legal culture and legal transplants, particularly in East Asia. The book cogently maintains that 'reference to custom in the process of creating a unified legal system was a universal occurrence in history'. It is for this reason that this book is a fascinating read, from a Chinese perspective, given the shared history and culture of Korea and China.' Lei Chen, Comparative Legal History 'Kim's work is a superb and informative piece of scholarship that only could be completed by a scholar with the breadth of knowledge and understanding that she possesses. Though custom and law is a difficult subject matter, [she] does an excellent job of explaining complex legal terms and ideas in a comprehensible way and in dealing with a sensitive period of history, showing how the Japanese colonial period shaped Korean history without seeking to condone or exonerate imperialism ... Those interested in Korean, Japanese, or comparative legal history would likely gain the most from Law and Custom in Korea, but I would also highly recommend it to anyone interested in Korean history from the Choson Dynasty to the present, as Kim ably shows how the impact of the past is still felt keenly today.' Franklin Rausch, Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies 'The colonizer's role still sparks heated debates in Korea, despite little attention to it abroad. Marie Seong-Hak Kim brings new attention to the issue with a spirited polemic about the origins of private or civil law in Korea under Japanese colonial rule (1910-45).' Dennis L. McNamara, The American Historical Review
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About Marie Seong-Hak Kim

Marie Seong-Hak Kim was born in Seoul, Korea, and was educated at Ewha Womans University (BA and MA), the University of Minnesota (PhD) and the University of Minnesota Law School (JD). Originally trained as a sixteenth-century French historian, Professor Kim teaches and writes on both European and East Asian legal history, concentrating on France, Korea and Japan. Her book, Michel de L'Hopital: The Vision of a Reformist Chancellor during the French Religious Wars, was published in 1997. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Law and History Review, The American Journal of Comparative Law, The Journal of Asian Studies, The Journal of Japanese Studies, Tijdschrift voor rechtsgeschiedenis, Toyo Bunka Kenkyu and French History. Her major awards and grants include the National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship, Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant, the Academy of Korean Studies Research Grants and the Japan Foundation Research Fellowship. She served as a visiting professor at the Institut d'Asie Orientale at Ecole Normale Superieure in Lyon, France, and was a fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden, The Netherlands. As a Fulbright Visiting Professor of Law, she taught at Handong Global University in Pohang, Korea. From 2011 to 2012, Professor Kim was a fellow at the Institut des Etudes Avancees (Collegium de Lyon) in France. She currently teaches at St Cloud State University. She is an attorney at law and a member of the Minnesota Bar.
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