Introduction to Korean Legal Materials

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Journal of Korean Law, Vol.2, No.1, 2002
Introduction to Korean Legal Materials
Young-Hee KIM*
A b s t r a c t
The purpose of this paper is to provide an introduction to Korean legal materials for researchers in the English language. It is worth noting, however, that a command of the Korean language would still be required to do the most thorough research, as many legal materials are simply not available in the English language. As of today, the most abundant source of Korean legal materials is the Internet, and this is especially so as the Korean government has developed legal databases in furtherance of its drive to promote a national information network. When researching on Korean law, therefore, it is recommendable to make use of the official legal sites of Korea such as the ones maintained by the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Legislation. Foreign researchers should be additionally aware that internationally recognized legal websites do not provide much of substantial information on Korean law.
* Lecturer, Sungshin Women’s University; SJD Candidate, Seoul National University; LL.B. 1989, Seoul National University; LL.M. 1993, Seoul National University; LL.M. 2000, Harvard Law School. All of the information contained herein has been verified as of February 2002. At present, the author is preparing a special guide to Korean Antitrust Law and will contain additional information such as directories and news items which have been omitted from this paper. The author wishes to thank Seung Ho CHOI for reviewing this article thoroughly and making it more readable.

Introduction to Korean Legal Materials

Table of Contents

I. Prefatory Remarks

1 2 7

A. Purpose of this Paper

1 2 7

B. Romanization of Korean

1 2 7

C. Individual’s Name as a Keyword

1 2 9

D. Citation Rules for this Paper

1 3 1

E. Korea as a Keyword

1 3 2

F. Using Korean in an English-based Computer Environment

1 3 3

G. Dictionaries

1 3 6

II. Basic Information

1 3 7

A. Previous Guides

1 3 7

B. Korean Legal System

1 3 9

C. Korean Law Collections in United States Libraries

1 4 2

D. The Harvard Korean Studies Bibliography

1 4 5

III. Acts

1 4 5

A. Government Resources

1 4 6

B. National Assembly Resources

1 4 9

C. Korean Acts in English

1 5 0

IV. Cases

1 5 1

A. Supreme Court Resources

1 5 2

B. Constitutional Court Resources

1 5 6

C. Korean Cases in English

1 5 8

V. Unofficial Legal Information Providers

1 5 8

A. In Print

1 5 8

B. Electronic Databases

1 5 9

VI. Legal Books & Periodicals in Korean

1 6 2

A. General Indexes

1 6 2

B. Korean Legal Indexes

1 6 2

C. Practical Materials

1 6 4

VII. Summary

1 6 5


Journal of Korean Law, Vol. 2, No.1, 2002
I. Prefatory Remarks
A. Purpose of this Paper
This bibliographical article introduces Korean legal materials to English speakers wishing to undertake the study of Korean law. Accordingly, basic materials available on the Korean law were surveyed for this paper. Because of the vast numbers of legal resources on the Internet today, legal resources have become much more accessible to scholars around the world. In line with this trend, the number of Korean legal texts written both in English and Korean has also been steadily growing. However, one should keep in mind that many of the materials reviewed, especially primary materials, are still only available in the Korean language. Many Korean Internet sites do provide an English language option, but the English pages usually only provide for introductory descriptions of materials or a translation of the table of contents. Also, Korean-English translation software programs currently available on the market are not sophisticated enough to accurately translate legal documents.
As such, this paper cannot solve the fundamental problem of the scarcity of English language Korean legal materials. In addition, this paper does not seek to establish a model rule for citation of Korean legal materials or a new rule for the Romanization of the Korean language.
B. Romanization of Korean
Outside Korea, legal materials written in Korean can be searched by entering search words in romanized Korean, that is, Korean words spelled out using the English alphabet. There are many ways to romanize Korean. Among them, the North American Standard for Library Catalogs uses the McCune-Reischauer system which is more or less different from the Korean government’s official system.
George McAfee McCune [and] Edwin Oldfather Reischauer, Romanization of the Korean Language, based upon its phonetic structure, Seoul, Y.M.C.A. Press: The Transactions of the Korea Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1939, 55 pages.1)
1) Harvard-Yenching: (W) PL918.M3; Harvard-Widener: 1277.105. This paper was not prepared exclusively for

Introduction to Korean Legal Materials
The original book for Romanization was quite dated and difficult to get, so the U.S. Library of Congress has modified it as follows:
Randall K. Barry (comp.&ed.), ALA-LC Romanization Tables: Transliteration Schemes for Non-Roman Scripts/approved by the Library of Congress and the American Library Association, Cataloging Distribution Service: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 1997, 239 pages.2)
This book discusses transliteration in general and the cataloging of foreign language publications. The Korean appears at pages 99-113 and basically same to the original McCune-Reischauer Romanization system. The McCune-Reischauer Romanization table also can be found at eastasian/korean_table/krntable.htm or
Although the McCune-Reischauer system is widely used between Koreanists especially outside Korea, a researcher should be aware of the fact that various methods of romanizing Korean words exist. For example, the word “law(„ ),” depending on the context and the romanization methods, could be romanized as “pop,” “pob,” “bop,” “bob,” “pub,” “pup,” “bub,” “bup,” “peob,” “peop,” “beob,” “beop,” or even “bom.” This complexity has been aggravated by various efforts to produce a combination that reflects the actual pronunciation. Using the Romanization table can be somewhat difficult (especially in reading romanized Korean) if the person is not familiar with the Korean alphabet system.
The Korean government has frequently changed the official Romanization rule. The current official Korean Romanization Rule was enacted on July 7, 2000 by the Decree of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Republic of Korea No.2000-8 The Revised Romanization of Korean 3) (–„˙ •˛‚ ˙¥–„ Kuk-o-ui No-ma-ja Pyo-gibop ).4) This rule can be found at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism website, at the Korean Information Service website
researchers located in the Northeast region of the United States. Nonetheless, Harvard call numbers have been provided for convenience to those using the Interlibrary Loan System (
2) Harvard-ILS Ref Desk P226.A4 1997. 3) Harvard-Yenching: (W)PL918.R48 2000x: The revised romanization of Korean, Seoul: National Academy of the Korean Language, Ministry of Culture & Tourism, 2000, 33 pages. 4) According to the new rule, it will be romanized into “Guk-eo-ui Ro-ma-ja Pyo-gi-beop.” The Rule 3 (2): When there is the possibility of confusion in pronunciation, a hyphen ‘-’may be used.

Journal of Korean Law, Vol. 2, No.1, 2002, or by clicking the Regulation button at the National Academy of the Korean Language (NAKL) website http:// The purpose of this new version was to make it as close as possible to the actual pronunciation of Korean words and to make it easy to adapt to the computer environment by eliminating diacritics. Despite the newlyestablished official rule, the above-mentioned McCune-Reischauer system is still widely used in the United States for Korean studies, and American libraries and researchers are reluctant to change the system unless urgently needed. Although the newly-established Romanization system purportedly is very compatible with the Korean language, it will bring transitional confusion to those who have studied K o r e a n .
The following discussion uses a modified McCune-Reischauer system, which is actually similar to the original but without the diacritics.5) If a source material is written in English, its English title is used, even when a Korean version exists. If a source is written in Korean, the official English title or a commonly used English title is written first, and then the original Korean title and its romanization in parenthesis are added. When the officially romanized individual’s name cannot be obtained, the name is unofficially romanized, with the Korean name provided in parenthesis.
C. Individual’s Name as a Keyword
George McAfee McCune [and] Edwin Oldfather Reischauer, Alphabetical Index to Korean Surnames in McCune-Reischauer Romanization with Cross-references from Alternate Korean Forms, Chinese and Japanese, [Seoul(?), 1939(?)], 16 pages.6)
Mary Jean Gates (comp.), Chinese-Korean Readings of Selected Chinese Family Names from Giles Chinese-English Dictionary in McCune-Reischauer Romanization, [Washington, D.C.(?), 1945(?)], 11pages.7)
5) The author’s modified system is almost the same as that used by many on-line library catalogs in the United States. From time to time, the author’s system was not strictly followed in this paper when an officially romanized title did not follow the McCune-Reischauer Romanization rule.
6) Harvard-Yenching: (W) PL939.M3. 7) Harvard-Yenching: (W) PL1483.C45x.

Introduction to Korean Legal Materials
The above two books provide examples of various romanized Korean names and can be used as references.
Searching for a Korean individual’s name in English requires some care as the name may have been romanized by the individual or by a cataloger at the library where the source was received. Catalogers romanize names when the individual’s preferred romanized name is not available. The latter, however, is easy to differentiate from the former, because Koreans often do not follow the official Romanization rule in relation to their names.8)
Moreover, the order of a romanized name can be confusing for foreigners. Korean names traditionally consist of a one-syllable last name (e.g. –Ł),9) a two-syllable first name (e.g. ¿¨æ),10) and no middle name. In Korean, the last name always comes first without a comma, and the first name follows with or without a space (e.g. –Ł¿¨æ or –Ł¿¨æ). With a romanized name, however, individuals usually follow the western order, that is, either the first name before the last name (e.g. Younghee Kim) or the last name followed by a comma before the first name (e.g. Kim, Younghee). Also, many Koreans add a hyphen or a space in between the two syllables of the first name to indicate separate syllables and to thereby facilitate accurate pronunciation (e.g. Young-Hee Kim, Young-hee Kim, or Young Hee Kim).11) The above-mentioned official Korean Romanization Rule of 2000, however, puts the last name before the first name without a comma and with or without hyphenating the two-syllable first name (e.g. Kim Young-hee or Kim Younghee). In recent times, moreover, major foreign presses and broadcasting stations (e.g., The New York Times, or The BBC) tend to put the last name before the first name and to add a space between the two syllables of the first name (e.g. Kim Young Hee), thereby reflecting the Korean pronouncing order of the name. To lessen the
8) As well as the names of the Korean publishing companies. For example, Korean publishing companies such as “Bakyongsa” and “Chongrim” have romanized their names into “Pakyoungsa” and “Chungrim.”
Like the former official rule, the new official Romanization rule of 2000 has not been adopted for Korean individuals’ names. It rather allows personal romanizations as an exception to the rules. For example, a Korean last name “ ” can be romanized as Lee, Rhee, Yi, Ri, Li, Rhie, or Lie, depending on personal preference.
9) Very few Koreans have two-syllable last names. Married women do not change their last names in Korea. 10) Some Koreans have a one-syllable first name. 11) Some individuals prefer to capitalize the first letter of second syllable and to remove the space between the two syllables, for example YoungHee.

Journal of Korean Law, Vol. 2, No.1, 2002

potential for confusion in this paper, the American style and the French style have been combined, i.e., the last names have been capitalized (e.g. Young-Hee KIM).
When searching for Korean legal materials by the individual’s name, one should not search by use of the last name alone, as there are too many people in Korea sharing the same last names. For example, there are over ten million Koreans who have “Kim (–Ł)” as their last name.12) One would be advised to search with the full name, or at least with the last name followed by one of the syllables of the first name.13)

D. Citation Rules for this Paper

The Korea Law Professors Association Inc., Nonmunjaksong mit Munhoninyong-e

kwanhan Pyojun(‡„fi…”„„fi˙˛¿º¿¡˙˙¥`)

, Seoul, 2000, 138 pages, [not for sale].

This rulebook is the so-called Korean Bluebook, and has been developed as an

effort to unify the use of citations in Korea. Pages 112-138 of the book explain the

citation methods for Korean materials in English manuscripts. The rules in this book,

however, are not universally followed even in Korea. Moreover, it requires corrections

and improvements.14) Although the new citation rules provide assistance for Koreans, it

is uncertain whether it will provide much assistance to foreign researchers, at least for

the time being.

Although the author has tried to follow the rulebook as much as possible, the author’s preference is given to the providing of full citations or to the use of one of the

12) For example, the author’s name, “–Ł¿¨æ,” is one of the most common names in Korea. So some individuals use Chinese characters in parallel “–Ł¿¨æ(·) ” to distinguish themselves from those that might have the same Korean name (e.g. –Ł¿¨æ(¨) , –Ł¿¨æ(–æ) , etc).
13) When locating sources written in English by Korean individuals, searching by the individual’s last name might still work because of the scarcity of materials written in the English language.
14) First, the rulebook does not fully consider English titles which foreign researchers commonly use. For example, regarding the Supreme Court’s Pallye Kongbo (˘˙•˚ł”‚ ), a general expression such as “court report” might be a more appropriate translation than “gazette,” although the Korean title has the word “Kongbo (ł”‚ )” which is literally translated as “gazette.” The word “gazette” is more suitable for the Supreme Court’s Pobwon Kongbo („¿ł ”‚ ). Second, the rulebook often does not use official English titles. For example, the expression “Supreme Court Full Bench” is suggested as a new rule in this book, but the official Supreme Court website refers to it as “Supreme Court Grand Bench.” Third, it omits some important primary materials, even such official materials as Kwanbo (the Official Gazette).

Introduction to Korean Legal Materials
citation methods conventionally followed by Korean academics in the social sciences.15)
The author also has not followed the Bluebook 16) rules for citations for two main reasons, even where Korean source materials were available in English. First, the Bluebook Table 2 does not have a “Korea” section. So only the basic principles of the Bluebook Rule 19 were consulted.17) Second, most scholars in Korea writing articles in English do not strictly follow the Bluebook rules for citations.
E. Korea as a Keyword
The official name for Korea is the “Republic of Korea (ROK),” although “South Korea” or “Korea South” is also commonly used. However, Korea is referred to as “Han-guk” in short or “Tae-han-min-guk (Dae-han-min-guk)” in full in the Korean language. Further, “Korean” refers to the people and the language of Korea, whereas “Han-geul” or “Han-gul” is its Korean equivalent as referred to in many sources.
A researcher should be aware that there is another half of Korea, “North Korea” (also known as “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)”). Using a subject heading with only the word “Korea” can retrieve materials related to both South Korea and North Korea, although it is more likely that materials are related to South Korea. Including the word “South” before or after the word “Korea” is a good search method, especially when there are many research materials. In most cases, however, using the word “Korea” is better than using the word “Korea South,” because some foreign catalogers will not discriminate between the two.
General information on Korea can be obtained 18) at
15) This citation method is merely a conventional method, so it does not have its official title. 16) The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 16th ed., The Harvard Law Review Association, 1997, 365 p a g e s . 17) Rule 19: Citation to foreign materials should conform as closely as possible to local citation practice, as modified by rule 19 (the related rules of the Bluebook at the pages 133-137 are omitted here). 18) Andrea Matles Savada [and] William Shaw (ed.), South Korea: A Country Study, 4th ed., Federal Research Division: Library of Congress: Washington, D.C., 1992, 408 pages. This book is the Korea volume of the Library Congress’ country report series. It provides some basic information on Korean history, politics, and statistics, and each chapter has bibliographical references. Although the publication date is 1992, the actual research was completed in 1990, and the book contains even older contents than those suggested by the publication date. Moreover, the political viewpoints reflected in this book are somewhat unclear.

Journal of Korean Law, Vol. 2, No.1, 2002
publications/factbook/geos/ks.html (CIA World Fact Book: Korea, South), and (State of Government Country Background Notes: Korea South), although these sites are not comprehensive.Instead, the Korean Information Service (KOIS) website, Korea Net at, is a better source. This site has a comprehensive collection of general information on Korea, including such topics as presidential diplomacy, important government policy, libraries, press, economy, news, etc. Although established by an institution of the government, it is not propagandistic.
F. Using Korean in an English-based Computer Environment
1. Displaying, Inputting, and Printing Korean Characters
In current times, the Internet has become one of the most important means of research of Korean law. This is not to suggest that information available on the Internet has any special authority, but rather that the Internet has become the first source for many researchers today. It would be very useful to have a Korean Language Operating System in order to use Korean characters on the Internet, although this would be difficult to do for a foreigner for many reasons.
At, one can find important and extensive helping support auxiliary documents on using Korean characters on a personal computer. This site provides a number of resources for various systems. Especially “Jungshik’s Frequently Asked Questions about Korean on the Internet” is recommendable, although the site was last updated in April 2000. If one can follow up on a later revision, this site can still be regarded as a good starting point.
Assuming most researchers use Microsoft(“MS”)-based programs, the problems that normally arise in using Korean in an English-based computer environment have mainly been resolved. One can freely use Korean in English-based Windows, Internet Explorer, MS Word, and MS Outlook. With Windows 9x/NT/Me, one can use Korean text by downloading and installing GIME (Global Input Method Editor) for Korean with the Language Pack. From Windows 2000, one can do this by choosing “Korean” under Regional Options in the Control Panel. The same steps can be taken with
Therefore, this resource is not recommended.

Introduction to Korean Legal Materials
Korean IME in the MS Office Plus Pack or Multilingual User Interface Pack of upgraded versions. On the latest version, ‘using English version Windows plus Korean language option’ and ‘using Korean version Windows plus English language option’ serve the same purpose. With the minimum installation of Internet Explorer 5.x, users can switch to different user interface languages regardless of the code page. For MS users using mixed versions of each program, visit the Product Support Service site for customized information.19)
With regards to e-mail, problems are often encountered, because people do not predominantly use a specific program. Before the Unicode, most programs used 8-bit code to depict Korean and 7-bit code for English. This difference did not cause many problems in Web browsing, but does in e-mail applications. Thus, one should be careful in choosing an e-mail program and an e-mail server to communicate in Korean. When using an e-mail server that does not provide for the Korean language, it usually cuts the additional 1-bit. In that case, people should use the CVT 8 program to recover the email. Nowadays, most e-mail programs provide the Unicode system for multiple languages, so one can easily read or input Korean. Such being the case, the sender and the receiver should use the system to get unbroken e-mails in Korean.
2. HWP File
In Korea, “Haangul (Arae-Ah Hangul, Hangul)” is the most popular multilanguage word processing program ( Many Korean websites, therefore, usually provide for full text layouts by using this word processing file format. The program uses “HWP” as the extension name.
As above-mentioned, one can freely use Korean with MS Office 2000. However, this does not mean that it is possible to read HWP files with MS office directly. The MS Office 2000 Korean version can convert HWP files to DOC files by clicking the conversion option from the installation CD. Through a similar process, if necessary, one might be able to convert HWP files with the use of the MS Office English
19) With some lower versions, one can definitely use Korean. The detailed explanation has been omitted, because, in the very near future, the explanation will become outdated due to rapid changes in the user environment, and because information needed can be found at the aforementioned site.
20) For details, please consult with the Computing section of

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Introduction to Korean Legal Materials