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Copyright (c) 2001 William S. Richardson School of Law 
University of Hawaii Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal

ARTICLE: The Ideal and the Reality of the Korean Legal Profession

Winter, 2001

2 Asian-Pacific L. & Pol'y J. 45


Jae Won Kim *



The economic development in Korea has been praised as a model for many other developing countries. 1 The political democratization in the nation also displaced the military and authoritarian regimes and improved human rights conditions. 2 It is difficult to say, however, whether the Korean legal profession in general has played the pivotal or appropriate role that society expected from it during Korea's transition to democracy and market economy. 3

This development without lawyers, however, turned out unsustainable. The passive role or non-participation by the lawyers could be neglected in past Korean society. The changed environment, especially in areas related to deregulation and globalization, however, has demanded the positive and active participation by Korean lawyers. Nevertheless, it seems that the current legal system, as well as the legal profession, is incapable of meeting such demand. In this regard, the paper argues that all of the basic problems of the Korean legal profession today have a significant bearing on legal education process. 4

The paper presents a kind of socio-legal study of the Korean legal profession, which has not yet been undertaken in the country. A few research and writings on Korean lawyers do exist, but they are biographical pieces about a few distinguished lawyers. This paper begins by describing an overview of the Korean legal profession. Next, the reality of different branches of the profession, notably judges, public prosecutors, private lawyers, are further discussed. Following this section, this paper critically examines the ...
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