According to Korean legend, the god-king Tangun founded the Korean nation in BC 2333. By the first century AD, the Korean Peninsula was divided into the kingdoms of Shilla, Koguryo, and Paekche. Shilla, with the aid of Tang China, unified the peninsula in 668 AD. With its center at Kyongju, the dynasty flourished for roughly three centuries before internal strife and foreign pressures led to its downfall in the 10th century. The Koryo dynasty--from which the Western name "Korea" is derived--succeeded Ssilla in 935. Among the cultural achievements of Koryo was the development of improved ceramics production and the world's first moveable metal type.
Following a military coup in1392, Koryo was supplanted by the Choseon, established by members of the Yi clan and lasted until 1910 when Japan formally annexed the Korean Peninsula. Throughout much of its history, Korea has been invaded, influenced, and fought over by its larger neighbors. It has suffered about 900 invasions during its 2,000 years of recorded history. Korea was under Mongolian occupation from 1231 until the early 14th century and was repeatedly ravaged by Chinese (government and rebel) armies. Beginning in 1592, the Japanese warlord, Hideyoshi, launched several military campaigns to take the peninsula. The Choseon Kingdom managed to repel Hideyoshi's armies with the aid of Ming China. However, the experience impelled the Yi court to choose a policy of foreign isolation, with the exception of China. It was this period of isolationism from which Korea earned the name "The Hermit Kingdom" in the 19th century.
Despite the closed-door-policy of the Choseon dynasty, China retained it position as the major source of influence on Korea, as it has for much of Korean history. Historically, Korea was a part of China's "tribute" system under which Korea maintained its independence but recognized China as a "cultural superior." Although the isolationist policies of the Yi court allowed the Choseon dynasty to maintain stability, the country fell behind international developments and subsequently was given a rude awakening to the new world order that existed in the latter half of the 19th century. Korea's policy of isolationism formally ended when the major Western powers and Japan sent warships to forcibly open the country. At the same time, Japanese, Chinese, and Russian competition in Northeast Asia led to armed conflict, and foreign intervention established dominance in Korea. China's defeat by Japan during the Sino-Japanese War (1894) secured for Japan suzerain rights over Korea. Japan formally annexed it in 1910.
The Japanese colonial era was characterized by tight control from Tokyo and ruthless efforts to supplant Korean language and culture. Organized Korean resistance, most notably the March 1, 1919 Independence Movement, was unsuccessful, and Japan remained firmly in control until the end of World War II. Meanwhile, the so-called Provisional Government of Korea was established in Shanghai, China (1919) by overseas Korean nationalists although their influence on politics was limited following the Japanese suppression of the March 1st Movement.
Toward the conclusion of the Second World War, the participants of the April 1945 Yalta Conference agreed to establish a four-power trusteeship for Korea. The trusteeship of the U.S., U.K., Soviet Union, and China was intended as a temporary administrative measure pending democratic elections for the formation of an official Korean Government. With the unexpected early surrender of Japan in September 1945, the United States proposed--and the Soviet Union agreed--that Japanese troops surrender to U.S. forces below the 38th parallel and to Soviet forces above.
At a December 1945 foreign ministers' conference in Moscow, it was proposed that a 5-year trusteeship be established in Korea. The Moscow conference generated a firestorm of protest in the South. Some of its most critical opponents were Korean leaders associated with the Shanghai Provisional Government. Most notable among them was the nationalist leader Syngman Rhee. The joint Soviet-American commission provided for by the Moscow Conference met intermittently in Seoul but became deadlocked over the issue of free consultations with representatives of all Korean political groups for establishment of a national government. The U.S. submitted the Korean question to the UN General Assembly for resolution in September 1947. In November, the General Assembly ruled that UN-supervised elections should be held.
The Soviet Union and Korean authorities in the North ignored the UN General Assembly resolution on elections. Nonetheless, elections were carried out under UN observation in the South, and on August 15, 1948, the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) was established. Syngman Rhee became the Republic of Korea's first president. On September 9, 1948, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) was established in the North under Kim Il Sung. Both administrations claimed to be the only legitimate government on the peninsula.
Armed uprisings in the South and clashes between southern and northern forces along the 38th parallel began and intensified during 1948-50. Although it continued to provide modest military aid to the South, the U.S. withdrew its occupation forces by June 1949, leaving behind only a military advisory group of 500 people.
On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. The UN, in accord with its Charter, engaged in its first collective action by establishing the UN Command (UNC), under which 16 member nations sent troops and assistance to South Korea. At the request of the UN Security Council, the United States, contributor of the largest contingent, led this international effort. After initially falling back to the southeastern Pusan perimeter, UN forces conducted a successful surprise landing at Incheon and rapidly advanced up the peninsula. As the main UN force approached the northern Yalu River, however, large numbers of "Chinese People's Volunteers" intervened, forcing UN troops to withdraw south of Seoul. The battle line seesawed back and forth until the late spring of 1951, when a successful offensive by UN forces was halted to enhance cease-fire negotiation prospects. The battle line thereafter stabilized north of Seoul near the 38th parallel. Although armistice negotiations began in July 1951, hostilities continued until 1953 with heavy losses on both sides. On July 27, 1953, the military commanders of the North Korean Army, the Chinese People's Volunteers, and the UNC signed an armistice agreement at Panmunjom. Neither the United States nor South Korea is a signatory of the armistice per se, though both adhere to it through the UNC. No comprehensive peace agreement has replaced the 1953 armistice pact; thus, a condition of belligerency still technically exists on the divided peninsula. The Military Armistice Commission (MAC) was created in 1953 to oversee and enforce the terms of the armistice. The Neutral Nation Supervisory Committee (NNSC)--originally made up of delegations from Poland and Czechoslovakia on the D.P.R.K. side and Sweden and Switzerland on the UN side--monitors the activities of the MAC. In recent years, North Korea has sought to undermine the MAC by various means. In April 1994 it declared the MAC void and withdrew its representatives. Prior to this it had forced the Czechs out of the NNSC by refusing to accept the Czech Republic as the successor state of Czechoslovakia, an original member of the NNSC. In September 1994 China recalled the Chinese People's Volunteers representatives to the MAC, and in early 1995 North Korea forced Poland to remove its representatives to the NNSC from the North Korean side of the DMZ.
Syngman Rhee served as president of the Republic of Korea until April 1960, when unrest led by university students forced him to step down. Though the constitution was amended and national elections were held in June, Maj. Gen. Park Chung Hee led an army coup against the successor government and assumed power in May 1961. After 2 years of military government under Park, civilian rule was restored in 1963. Park, who had retired from the army, was elected president and was reelected in 1967, 1971, and 1978 in highly controversial elections. The Park era, marked by rapid industrial modernization and extraordinary economic growth, ended with his assassination in October 1979. Prime Minister Choi Kyu Ha briefly assumed office, promising a new constitution and presidential elections. However, in December 1979 Maj. Gen. Chun Doo Hwan and close military colleagues staged a coup, removing the army chief of staff and soon effectively controlling the government. University student-led demonstrations against Chun's government spread in the spring of 1980 until the government declared martial law, banning all demonstrations, and arresting many political leaders and dissidents. Special forces units in the city of Kwangju dealt particularly harshly with demonstrators and residents, setting off a chain of events that left at least 200 civilians dead. This became a critically important event in contemporary South Korean political history. Chun, by then retired from the army, officially became president in September 1980. Though martial law ended in January 1981, his government retained broad legal powers to control dissent. Nevertheless, an active and articulate minority of students, intellectuals, clergy, and others remained critical of the Chun government and demonstrated against it. In April 1986 the President appeared to yield to demands for reform, particularly for a constitutional amendment allowing direct election of his successor. However, in June 1987 Chun suspended all discussion of constitutional revision, and the ruling Democratic Justice Party (DJP) approved Chun's handpicked successor, Roh Tae Woo. In response, students, then followed by the general public, took to the streets in protest. In a surprise move, on June 29, ruling party presidential candidate Roh Tae Woo announced the implementation of democratic reforms. The constitution was revised in October 1987 to include direct presidential elections and a strengthened National Assembly consisting of 299 members.
The main opposition forces soon split into two parties--Kim Dae-jung's Peace and Democracy Party (PPD) and Kim Young Sam's Reunification Democratic Party (RDP). With the opposition vote split, Roh Tae Woo subsequently won the December 1987 presidential election--the first direct one since 1971--with 37% of the vote. The new constitution entered into force in February 1988 when President Roh assumed office. Elections for the National Assembly were held on April 26. President Roh's ruling Democratic Justice Party was then able to win only 34% of the vote in the April 1988 National Assembly elections--the first time the ruling party had lost control of the Assembly since 1952.
Today, the Republic of Korea is governed by a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. Kim Dae-jung was elected President in a free and fair election in December 1997 and was inaugurated in February 1998. The next presidential election is scheduled to be held on December 19, 2002. A free and fair National Assembly election was held in April 2000. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and in recent years, the judiciary has shown increasing independence; however, several scandals in 1999 involving alleged illegal influence peddling and cronyism have damaged the image of prosecutors and judges. Allegations of malfeasance by the Prosecutor's Office surfaced late in the year.
From the founding of the Republic of Korea, its leaders, while professing liberal democratic ideals, consistently held that the security threat posed by an aggressive, communist North Korea required some modification of Western democracy to fit Korean realities. Confronted with a heavily armed enemy determined to reunify the peninsula on its own terms--by force, if necessary--successive South Korean governments gave top priority to external and internal security, guaranteed by large and well-organized security services. The need for social order and discipline in the face of this threat remained central to the government's approach. Faced with a divided country, even "loyal" opposition often was suppressed as dangerously disruptive. On more than one occasion, political opposition was confused with communist subversion. The communist threat at times provided political justification for authoritarian regimes to maintain power and to suppress public criticism or demands for democracy. In both 1961 and 1980, the military cited these concerns to justify its interventions in South Korean politics.
After the division of the peninsula, North Korea used subversion and sabotage against South Korea as part of its effort to achieve reunification. North Korea was unsuccessful at developing a covert political infrastructure in South Korea or forging links with dissidents resident in South Korea, and after the early 1960s P'yongyang's efforts were unproductive. Based on available evidence, in 1990 it appeared that P'yongyang placed or recruited only a limited number of political agents and sympathizers in the southern part of the peninsula. P'yongyang's agents acted individually for the most part, did not maintain regular contact with one another, and received only intermittent support and guidance.
Peacetime infiltration by North Korean agents was a fact of life in South Korea after the armistice in 1953. There were, however, clear shifts both in the number and method of infiltrations over the years and in their goals. Through the mid1960s , P'yongyang sent agents primarily to gather intelligence and to try to build a covert political apparatus. This tactic was followed by a dramatic shift to violent attempts to destabilize South Korea, including commando raids along the DMZ that occasionally escalated into firefights involving artillery. These raids peaked in 1968, when more than 600 infiltrations were reported, including an unsuccessful attempt at a commando attack on the Blue House in Seoul and the infiltration of over 120 commandos on the east coast. In 1969 more than 150 infiltrations were attempted, involving almost 400 agents. In 1970 and 1974, agents attempted unsuccessfully to assassinate President Park. In the 1974 attempt, during an August 15 ceremony marking National Liberation Day at the National Theater in Seoul, the assassin's shots missed President Park but killed Mrs. Park. Subsequently, P'yongyang's infiltration efforts abated somewhat, and the emphasis shifted back to intelligence gathering and covert networks.
From the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, most North Korean infiltration was done by heavily armed reconnaissance teams, which increasingly were intercepted and neutralized by South Korean security forces. After shifting to infiltration by sea for a brief period in the 1980s, P'yongyang apparently discarded military reconnaissance in favor of inserting agents from third countries. North Korea did not abandon violence, however, as was shown by the abortive 1982 attempt to recruit Canadian criminals to assassinate President Chun Doo Hwan, the 1983 Rangoon assassination attempt that killed seventeen South Korean government officials and four Burmese dignitaries, and the 1987 destruction of a Korean Air airliner with 115 people on board. In the airliner bombing, North Korea broke from its pattern of targeting South Korean government officials, in particular the president, and targeted ordinary citizens.
North Korean propaganda concentrated on weakening the social fabric and sowing discord between the South Korean government and the population. Indirectly, North Korea sought to turn dissident elements within South Korean society into propagandists and agitators who would undermine the government. P'yongyang achieved some limited indirect success in this effort, as indicated by the repetition of some of its themes by student dissidents. North Korean coverage of dissident activity in the south was on occasion so timely and accurate as to lead some members of the South Korean government to believe that dissent in the south was directed from the north. However, despite similarities between North Korean propaganda and dissident statements, South Korean security agencies never convincingly established a direct connection between the dissidents and the north, although in the late 1980s some elements among dissident groups increasingly used Marxist-Leninist language and North Korean political themes.
The pre-Korean War period was marked by political turmoil and widespread demands for sweeping political, economic, and social change. As the communists entrenched themselves in the north and right-of-center politicians emerged in control in the south, the possibility for peaceful unification of the peninsula disappeared. In the autumn of 1946, a series of unorchestrated leftist-led labor strikes and rural peasant rebellions were suppressed by the fledgling Korean National Police after some 1,000 deaths and 30,000 arrests. The communist South Korean Workers' Party led a partly indigenous guerrilla movement in the south after a major rebellion on Cheju Island in April 1948 that claimed tens of thousands of lives. South Korea's military and paramilitary forces were beset by mutinies and defections but eventually gained the upper hand. In reaction to the communist- based Yosu-Sunch'on rebellion of October 1948, a harsh national security law was passed in December 1949 that made communism a crime. However, the law was so comprehensive and vague that it could be used against any opposition group. Under the law, members of the South Korean Workers' Party were arrested and some 150,000 persons were barred from political activity. Guerrilla warfare continued until the end of 1949, coupled with skirmishing along the thirty-eighth parallel. North Korea's conventional attack followed when it became clear that the insurgents would not triumph easily.
Recollection of this chaotic period and the invasion from North Korea colored subsequent South Korean government attitudes toward internal security. Domestic opposition, especially from the left, was suspect. President Syngman Rhee's call for national unity provided political justification for limiting the activities of the opposition during the 1950s. Although the regime did not suppress all opposition or independent sources of information, it suppressed some organized opposition and criticism.
In the late 1950s, as Rhee became more authoritarian, the government increasingly resorted to using the police force and to a lesser extent, the military security forces, for political purposes. The Ministry of Home Affairs, whose charter ranged from intelligence and investigative operations to supervision of local and provincial affairs, emerged as a powerful political force. The police, with a strong core of veterans from the Japanese colonial police (approximately 70 percent of the highest ranking officers, 40 percent of the inspectors, and 15 percent of the lieutenants), was both effective and feared. The police used strong-arm tactics to coerce support for the ruling party during elections and harassed the political opposition. The prerogative of the police to call in anyone for questioning was a powerful tool of intimidation. These circumstances inevitably led to police corruption, politicized law enforcement, and exploitation of the populace in the name of internal security. Rhee's political survival became more and more dependent on the police. When police control wavered at the time of the April 19 student revolution in April 1960, his regime fell.
The short-lived Chang Myon government (July 1960 to May 1961) did not survive long enough to articulate an internal security policy but was committed to a more open political system. However, because of internal conflict within the ruling party and the obstructions of the conservative opposition, society was in a state of political and social turmoil.
Following the May 16, 1961, military coup, the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) was formed on June 19. Directly under the control of the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, the KCIA, with nearly unlimited power, emerged as the organization most feared during the Park Chung Hee era. Under Kim Chong-p'il's direction, the organization weeded out anti-Park elements and became the prime tool keeping the regime in power.
Under Park, the lack of advancement in civil liberties continued to be justified by referring to the threat from North Korea. The political influence of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the police declined in the face of the KCIA's power. The relationship between the police and general public, however, was not significantly altered. As Se-Jin Kim wrote in 1971: "The former still act with arbitrary arrogance; the latter respond with fear but not respect."
The government often used martial law or garrison decree in response to political unrest. From 1961 to 1979, martial law or a variant was evoked eight times. The October 15, 1971, garrison decree, for example, was triggered by student protests and resulted in the arrest of almost 2,000 students. A year later, on October 17, 1972, Park proclaimed martial law, disbanded the National Assembly, and placed many opposition leaders under arrest. In November the yusin constitution (yusin means revitalization), which greatly increased presidential power, was ratified by referendum under martial law.
The government grew even more authoritarian, governing by presidential emergency decrees in the immediate aftermath of the establishment of the yusin constitution; nine emergency decrees were declared between January 1974 and May 1975. The Park regime strengthened the originally draconian National Security Act of 1960 and added an even more prohibitive Anticommunism Law. Under those two laws and Emergency Measure Number Nine, any kind of antigovernment activity, including critical speeches and writings, was open to interpretation as a criminal act of "sympathizing with communism or communists" or "aiding antigovernment organizations." Political intimidation, arbitrary arrests, preventive detention, and brutal treatment of prisoners were not uncommon.
Opposition to the government and its harsh measures increased as the economy worsened in 1979. Scattered labor unrest and the government's repressive reactions sparked widespread public dissent: mass resignation of the opposition membership in the National Assembly and student and labor riots in Pusan, Masan, and Ch'angwon. The government declared martial law in the cities. In this charged atmosphere, under circumstances that appeared related to dissatisfaction with Park's handling of the unrest, on October 26, 1979, KCIA chief Kim Chae-gyu killed Park and the chief of the Presidential Security Force, Ch'a Chi-ch'ol, and then was himself arrested. Emergency martial law was immediately declared to deal with the crisis, placing the head of the Defense Security Command, Major General Chun Doo Hwan, in a position of considerable military and political power.
Popular demand for the restoration of civil liberties after Park's death was immediate and widespread. Acting President Ch'oe Kyu-ha revoked Emergency Measure Number Nine, which had forbidden criticism of the government and the yusin constitution. Civil rights were restored to almost 700 people convicted under the emergency decrees. The illegitimacy of the yusin constitution was acknowledged, and the process of constitutional revision begun.
The slow pace of reform led to growing popular unrest. In early May 1980, student demonstrators protested a variety of political and social issues, including the government's failure to lift emergency martial law imposed following Park's assassination. The student protests spilled into the streets, reaching their peak during May 13 to 16, at which time the student leaders obtained a promise that the government would attempt to speed up reform. The military's response, however, was political intervention led by Lieutenant General Chun Doo Hwan, then KCIA chief and army chief of staff. Chun, who had forced the resignation of Ch'oe's cabinet, banned political activities, assemblies, and rallies, and arrested many ruling and opposition politicians.
In Kwangju, demonstrations to protest the extension of martial law and the arrest of Kim Dae Jung turned into rebellion as demonstrators reacted to the brutal tactics of the Special Forces sent to the city. The government did not regain control of the city for nine days, after some 200 deaths.
General Chun Doo Hwan, as chairman of the standing committee of the Special Committee for National Security Measures (SCNSM), assumed de facto leadership of the country. The pronouncement of martial law announced as a result of Park's assassination remained in effect until January 24, 1981. Under the Special Committee for National Security Measures and the Legislative Council for National Security that replaced it, sweeping political controls were instituted. Established political parties were disbanded and over 800 people banned from politics; the media were restructured, many journals were abolished, and hundreds of journalists were purged; some 8,000 employees were purged from government or government-controlled companies and some 37,000 people were arrested and "re-educated" in military training camps under the Social Purification Campaign; and military court jurisdiction was extended to such civilian offenses as corruption and participation in antigovernment demonstrations. The new National Assembly Law and the amended National Security Act (which was rewritten to incorporate elements of the 1961 Anticommunist Law) also were passed. On January 10, 1981, the Martial Law Command allowed people to resume limited political activities in preparation for the presidential election.
The Fifth Republic's constitution marked significant progress from the yusin constitution. As implemented by the newly elected Chun government, however, it fell far short of popular expectations of democraticization that had been raised after Park's death. The constitution was attacked by students and dissidents as Park's yusin system under new trappings. The government attempted to defuse discontent by "decompression" as well as repression, gradually returning civil rights to those banned in 1980. Additionally, the government opened up the political system slightly in 1983 and to a greater degree in 1985, although the dissident movement continued.
Discontent was kept under control until 1987 by the regime's extensive security services--particularly the Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP, the renamed KCIA), the Defense Security Command (DSC), and the Combat Police of the Korean National Police (KNP). Both the civilian ANSP and the military DSC not only collected domestic intelligence but also continued "intelligence politics."
The Act Concerning Assembly and Demonstration was used to limit the expression of political opposition by prohibiting assemblies likely to "undermine" public order. Advanced police notification of all demonstrations was required. Violation carried a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment or a fine. Most peaceful nonpolitical assemblies took place without government interference. However, the act was the most frequently used tool to control political activity in the Fifth Republic, and the Chun regime was responsible for over 84 percent of the 6,701 investigations pursued under the act.
The security presence in city centers, near university campuses, government and party offices, and media centers was heavy. Citizens, particularly students and young people, were subject to being stopped, questioned, and searched without due process. The typical response to demonstrations was disruption by large numbers of Combat Police, short-term mass detention of demonstrators, and selective prosecution of the organizers. Arrest warrants--required by law--were not always produced at the time of arrest in political cases.
The National Security Act increasingly was used after 1985 to suppress domestic dissent. Intended to restrict "antistate activities endangering the safety of the state and the lives and freedom of the citizenry," the act also was used to control and punish nonviolent domestic dissent. Its broad definition of offenses allowed enforcement over the widest range, wider than that of any other politically relevant law in South Korea. Along with other politically relevant laws such as the Social Safety Act and the Act Concerning Crimes Against the State, it weakened or removed procedural protection available to defendants in nonpolitical cases.
Questioning by the security services often involved not only psychological or physical abuse, but outright torture. The 1987 torture and death of Pak Chong-ch'ol, a student at Seoul National University being questioned as to the whereabouts of a classmate, played a decisive role in galvanizing public opposition to the government's repressive tactics.
The security services not only detained those accused of violating laws governing political dissent, but also put under various lesser forms of detention--including house arrest--those people, including opposition politicians, who they thought intended to violate the laws. Many political, religious, and other dissidents were subjected to surveillance by government agents. Opposition assembly members later charged in the National Assembly that telephone tapping and the interception of correspondence were prevalent. Ruling party assembly members, government officials, and senior military officials probably also were subjected to this interferencal though they did not openly complain.
Listening to North Korean radio stations remained illegal in 1990 if it were judged to be for the purpose of "benefiting the antistate organization" (North Korea). Similarly, books or other literature considered subversive, procommunist, or pro-North Korean were illegal; authors, publishers, printers, and distributors of such material were subject to arrest.
Use of tear gas by the police (over 260,000 tear gas shells were used in 1987 to quell demonstrations) increasingly was criticized; the criticism eventually resulted in legal restrictions on tear gas use in 1989. The government continued, however, to block many "illegal" gatherings organized by dissidents that were judged to incite "social unrest." In 1988 government statistics noted 6,552 rallies involving 1.7 million people. There were 2.2 million people who had particiated in 6,791 demonstrations in 1989.
Following a sharp rebound in 1999 from an unprecedented financial and economic crisis, the country's economy grew by 8.8 percent in 2000, but growth declined to 2.5 percent during the year 2001. The Government continued its reform program, with more progress made in reforming the financial and corporate sectors than in the labor market and public sectors. Unemployment remained under 5 percent. However, the country's economic growth was dependent on key export products, and weakness in the financial system left the economy susceptible to unpredictable external conditions. The country's population was 47,000,000.
Koreans, like other East Asians, have traditionally been eclectic rather than exclusive in their religious commitments. Their religious outlook has not been conditioned by a single, exclusive faith but by a combination of indigenous beliefs and creeds imported into Korea. Belief in a world inhabited by spirits is probably the oldest form of Korean religious life, dating back to prehistoric times. There is a rather unorganized pantheon of literally millions of gods, spirits, and ghosts, ranging from the "god generals" who rule the different quarters of heaven to mountain spirits (sansin). This pantheon also includes gods who inhabit trees, sacred caves, and piles of stones, as well as earth spirits, the tutelary gods of households and villages, mischievous goblins, and the ghosts of persons who in many cases met violent or tragic ends. These spirits are said to have the power to influence or to change the fortunes of living men and women.
Korean shamans are similar in many ways to those found in Siberia, Mongolia, and Manchuria. They also resemble the yuta found on the Ryukyu Islands, in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. Cheju Island is also a center of shamanism.
Shamans, most of whom are women, are enlisted by those who want the help of the spirit world. Female shamans (mudang) hold kut, or services, in order to gain good fortune for clients, cure illnesses by exorcising evil spirits, or propitiate local or village gods. Such services are also held to guide the spirit of a deceased person to heaven.
Often a woman will become a shaman very reluctantly--after experiencing a severe physical or mental illness that indicates "possession" by a spirit. Such possession allegedly can be cured only through performance of a kut. Once a shaman is established in her profession, she usually can make a good living.
Many scholars regard Korean shamanism as less a religion than a "medicine" in which the spirits are manipulated in order to achieve human ends. There is no notion of salvation or moral and spiritual perfection, at least for the ordinary believers in spirits. The shaman is a professional who is consulted by clients whenever the need is felt. Traditionally, shamans had low social status and were members of the ch'ommin class. This discrimination has continued into modern times.
Animistic beliefs are strongly associated with the culture of fishing villages and are primarily a phenomenon found in rural communities. Shamans also treat the ills of city people, however, especially recent migrants from the countryside who find adjustment to an impersonal urban life stressful. The government has discouraged belief in shamanism as superstition and for many years minimized its persistence in Korean life. Yet in a climate of growing nationalism and cultural self-confidence, the dances, songs, and incantations that compose the kut have come to be recognized as an important aspect of Korean culture. Beginning in the 1970s, rituals that formerly had been kept out of foreign view began to resurface, and occasionally a Western hotel manager or other executive could even be seen attending a shamanistic exorcism ritual in the course of opening a new branch in Seoul. Some of these aspects of kut have been designated valuable cultural properties that should be preserved and passed on to future generations.
The future of shamanism itself was uncertain in the late 1980s. Observers believed that many of its functions in the future probably will be performed by the psychiatric profession as the government expands mental health treatment facilities. Given the uncertainty of social, economic, and political conditions, however, it appears certain that shamans will find large numbers of clients for some time to come.
Daoism, which focuses on the individual in nature rather than the individual in society, and Buddhism entered Korea from China during the Three Kingdoms period (fourth to seventh centuries A.D.). Daoist motifs are seen in the paintings on the walls of Koguryo tombs. Buddhism was the dominant religious and cultural influence during the Silla (A.D. 668-935) and Koryo (918-1392) dynasties. Confucianism also was brought to Korea from China in early centuries, but it occupied a subordinate position until the establishment of the Choson Dynasty and the persecution of Buddhism carried out by the early Choson Dynasty kings.
Roman Catholic missionaries did not arrive in Korea until 1794, a decade after the return of the first baptized Korean from a visit to Beijing. However, the writings of the Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci, who was resident at the imperial court in Beijing, had been brought to Korea from China in the seventeenth century. It appears that scholars of the Sirhak, or practical learning, school were interested in these writings. Largely because converts refused to perform Confucian ancestor rites, the government prohibited the proselytization of Christianity. Some Catholics were executed during the early nineteenth century, but the anti-Christian law was not strictly enforced. By the 1860s, there were some 17,500 Roman Catholics in the country. There followed a more rigorous persecution, in which thousands of Christians died, that continued until 1884.
Protestant missionaries entered Korea during the 1880s and, along with Catholic priests, converted a remarkable number of Koreans. Methodist and Presbyterian missionaries were especially successful. They established schools, universities, hospitals, and orphanages and played a significant role in the modernization of the country. During the Japanese colonial occupation, Christians were in the front ranks of the struggle for independence. Factors contributing to the growth of Protestantism included the degenerate state of Korean Buddhism, the efforts made by educated Christians to reconcile Christian and Confucian values (the latter being viewed as purely a social ethic rather than a religion), the encouragement of self-support and selfgovernment among members of the Korean church, and the identification of Christianity with Korean nationalism.
A large number of Christians lived in the northern part of the peninsula where Confucian influence was not as strong as in the south. Before 1948 P'yongyang was an important Christian center: one-sixth of its population of about 300,000 people were converts. Following the establishment of a communist regime in the north, however, most Christians had to flee to South Korea or face persecution.
Ch'ondogyo, generally regarded as the first of Korea's "new religions," is another important religious tradition. It is a synthesis of Confucian, Buddhist, shamanistic, Daoist, and Catholic influences. Ch'ondogyo grew out of the Tonghak Movement (also called Eastern Learning Movement) established by Ch'oe Cheu , a man of yangban background who claimed to have experienced a mystic encounter with God, who told him to preach to all the world. Ch'oe was executed by the government as a heretic in 1863, but not before he had acquired a number of followers and had committed his ideas to writing. Tonghak spread among the poor people of Korea's villages, especially in the Cholla region, and was the cause of a revolt against the royal government in 1894. While some members of the Tonghak Movement-- renamed Ch'ondogyo (Teachings of the Heavenly Way)--supported the Japanese annexation in 1910, others opposed it. This group played a major role, along with Christians and some Confucians, in the Korean nationalist movement. In the 1920s, Ch'ondogyo sponsored Kaebyok (Creation), one of Korea's major intellectual journals during the colonial period.
Ch'ondogyo's basic beliefs include the essential equality of all human beings. Each person must be treated with respect because all persons "contain divinity;" there is "God in man." Moreover, men and women must sincerely cultivate themselves in order to bring forth and express this divinity in their lives. Self-perfection, not ritual and ceremony, is the way to salvation. Although Ch'oe and his followers did not attempt to overthrow the social order and establish a radical egalitarianism, the revolutionary potential of Ch'ondogyo is evident in these basic ideas, which appealed especially to poor people who were told that they, along with scholars and high officials, could achieve salvation through effort. There is reason to believe that Ch'ondogyo had an important role in the development of democratic and anti-authoritarian thought in Korea. In the 1970s and 1980s, Ch'ondogyo's antecedent, the Tonghak Movement, received renewed interest among many Korean intellectuals.
Apart from Ch'ondogyo, major new religions included Taejonggyo, which has as its central creed the worship of Tangun, legendary founder of the Korean nation. Chungsanggyo, founded in the early twentieth century, emphasizes magical practices and the creation of a paradise on earth. It is divided into a great number of competing branches. Wonbulgyo, or Won Buddhism, attempts to combine traditional Buddhist doctrine with a modern concern for social reform and revitalization. There are also a number of small sects which have sprung up around Mount Kyeryong in South Ch'ungch'ong Province, the supposed future site of the founding of a new dynasty originally prophesied in the eighteenth century.
Several new religions derive their inspiration from Christianity. The Chondogwan, or Evangelical Church, was founded by Pak T'ae-son. Pak originally was a Presbyterian, but was expelled from the church for heresy in the 1950s after claiming for himself unique spiritual power. By 1972 his followers numbered as many as 700,000 people, and he built several "Christian towns," established a large church network, and managed several industrial enterprises.
Because of its overseas evangelism, the Hold Spirit Association for the Unification of the World Christianity, or Unification Church (T'ongilgyo), founded in 1954 by Reverend Sun Myong Moon (Mun Son-myong), also a former Christian, is the most famous Korean new religion. During its period of rigorous expansion during the 1970s, the Unification Church had several hundred thousand members in South Korea and Japan and a substantial (although generally overestimated) number of members in North America and Western Europe. Moon claimed that he was the "messiah" designated by God to unify all the peoples of the world into one "family," governed theocratically by himself. Like Pak's Evangelical Church, the Unification Church has been highly authoritarian, demanding absolute obedience from church members. Moon, for example, has arranged marriages for his younger followers; United States television audiences were treated some years ago to a mass ceremony at which several hundred young "Moonies" were married. Also like Pak, Moon has coupled the church's fortunes to economic expansion. Factories in South Korea and abroad manufacture arms and process ginseng and seafood, artistic bric-a-brac, and other items. Moon's labor force has worked long hours and been paid minimal wages in order to channel profits into church coffers. Virulently anticommunist, Moon has sought to influence public opinion at home and abroad by establishing generally unprofitable newspapers such as the Segye Ilbo in Seoul, the Sekai Nippo in Tokyo, and the Washington Times in the United States capital, and by inviting academics to lavish international conferences, often held in South Korea. At home, the Unification Church was viewed with suspicion by the authorities because of its scandals and Moon's evident desire to create a "state within a state." His influence, however, had declined by the late 1980s.
According to government statistics, 42.6 percent or more than 17 million of South Korea's 1985 population professed adherence to an organized religious community. There were at least 8 million Buddhists (about 20 percent of the total population), about 6.5 million Protestants (16 percent of the population), some 1.9 million Roman Catholics (5 percent), nearly 500,000 people who belonged to Confucian groups (1 percent), and more than 300,000 others (0.7 percent). Significantly, large metropolitan areas had the highest proportions of people belonging to formal religious groups: 49.9 percent in Seoul, 46.1 percent for Pusan, and 45.8 percent for Taegu. The figures for Christians revealed that South Korea had the highest percentage of Christians of any country in East Asia or Southeast Asia, with the exception of the Philippines.
Except for the Christian groups, who maintain a fairly clearcut distinction between believers and nonbelievers, there is some ambiguity in these statistics. As mentioned above, there is no exact or exclusive criterion by which Buddhists or Confucianists can be identified. Many people outside of formal groups have been deeply influenced by these traditions. Moreover, there is nothing contradictory in one person's visiting and praying at Buddhist temples, participating in Confucian ancestor rites, and even consulting a shaman and sponsoring a kut. Furthermore, the statistics may underrepresent the numbers of people belonging to new religions. Some sources have given the number of adherents of Ch'ondogyo as over 1 million.
Given the great diversity of religious expression, the role of religion in South Korea's social development has been a complex one. Some traditions, especially Buddhism, are identified primarily with the past. Buddhist sites such as the Pulguksa Temple and the Sokkuram Grotto in Kyongju and the Haeinsa Temple near Taegu are regarded by most South Koreans as important cultural properties rather than as places of worship. Confucianism remains important as a social ethic; its influence is evident in the immense importance Koreans ascribe to education. Christianity is identified with modernization and social reform. Many Christians in contemporary South Korea, such as veteran political opposition leader Kim Dae Jung, a Catholic, have been outspoken advocates of human rights and critics of the government. Christian-sponsored organizations such as the Urban Industrial Mission promote labor organizations and the union movement. New religions draw on both traditional beliefs and on Christianity, achieving a baffling variety and diversity of views. It has been estimated that there were as many as 300 new religions in South Korea in the late 1980s, though many were small and transient phenomena.
Throughout Korea's history, the assimilation of foreign laws has taken place in waves. Korea assimilated the codes of the Chinese Qin, Wei, and Tang dynasties in the early Three Kingdoms period, the codes of the Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties in the Koryo period (918-1392), the Ming Code in the Choson Dynasty (1392-1910) period, Western civil law at the close of the Choson Dynasty and during the Japanese occupation, and both Continental Law and Anglo-American law after liberation in 1945. The Choson Dynasty also produced numerous codifications of Korean law and created new laws as necessary to deal with economic, social, and other public policy issues. Confucian values exerted strong influence on Korea's traditional law.
With the end of the Choson Dynasty in 1910, decisive changes occurred in Korean law. Traditional Korean institutions were suddenly replaced. Reform measures, characterized by the introduction of Western institutions, began with the Kabo Reforms (1894-95) forced on Korea by Japan and modeled on the Japanese reforms of the Meiji Restoration (1868). These hasty reforms produced many laws translated from Japanese codes, which in turn had their origins in Roman and Germanic laws. The imposition of institutions by the Japanese and their post-1910 use for repressive colonial control constituted a sharp break with the Korean past.
The Westernized legal system's key features included its origin in the European civil law tradition; prominent roles for legal scholars, university professors, and legislators, rather than judges; codified law rather than precedent as the major source of law; and an inquisitorial rather than adversarial court procedure. In other respects, however, Japanese colonial rule continued several features of the traditional Korean legal order. Under Japanese colonial rule, for example, there was no constitutional law, no guarantee of rights, and no judicial review of the exercise of political power. The legal system of Korea under Japanese rule was composed essentially of rules, duties, and obligations. Further, there was little institutional or procedural separation of powers. The Japanese governor general had even greater executive and legislative power than traditional Korean kings and ruled through a large, efficient, and modern bureaucracy.
After independence, revulsion over the Japanese occupation motivated Korean officials to devise a new codification designed to replace all Japanese laws, decrees, and orders, as well as the regulations and decrees of the United States Army Military Government in Korea (1945-48) with Korean codes. The process took ten years. Eventually, the Criminal Code (1953), the Code of Criminal Procedure (1954), the Civil Code (1958), the Civil Procedure Law (1960), and the Commercial Code (1962), as well as other codes--deliberately distinguished from previous Japanese codes--were adopted. In most substantive areas, however, South Korean law retained the most fundamental principles and procedures of continental jurisprudence as originally received through Japan.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (1954) governed most aspects of the enforcement of criminal justice. The code retained the basic characteristics of the European continental legal system and had some features of Anglo-American law. Among the features adapted from the United States legal system were a requirement for judicial warrants; modification of preliminary examination; strengthening of the system of state-appointed counsel; rejection of hearsay evidence as a matter of rule; and a requirement for corroborating evidence obtained in confessions.
The first exclusionary ruling on a confession in a South Korean court based on the constitutional guarantee of the right to legal counsel occurred in late 1989. Law enforcement and security agency officials, however, did not consider themselves compelled to adhere to legal precedents or court rulings when subsequently investigating other cases. Police and prosecutors, especially in political or espionage cases, still limited the frequency and length of defendants' meetings with counsel, except when taking written statements. Legislative action was needed for the South Korean system to proceed beyond court redress of specific violations in specific cases to the establishment of general guidelines.
According to the criminal legal system in Korea, there is a distinction between criminal offenses and non-criminal offenses. Criminal offenses, patterns of behavior defined as crime in the criminal law, are further classified into: 1) crimes breaching a national interest (such as crime of rebellion), 2) crimes breaching a social interest (such as sedition or arson), and 3) crimes breaching personal interests (for instance, murder). Offenses that are not proscribed in the criminal law but are defined as criminal in other laws include tax-related crimes and drug-related crimes.
There is also a distinction between serious offenses and less serious offenses. Criminal offenses subject to jail or minor fines are called less-serious offenses and separate laws designated for these less-serious offenses exist. Violations that are subject to more severe punishment than the above are called serious offenses.
There is a generic distinction between crimes of a violent nature and property-related crimes. For each of them special laws prescribing additional punishment exist depending upon the particular type of crime. Property crimes in Korea refer to crimes violating property interests. They include crimes of theft, fraud, embezzlement, breach of trust, and damage. Violent crimes include injury, assault & battery, and rape.
The age of criminal responsibility is 14. Persons of age 14 through age 20 are specially treated under the Juvenile Law. For juveniles, an indeterminate sentence is applied, with less than 10 years for a longer term and less then 5 years for a shorter term. For those under age 18, capital punishment and life imprisonment are not allowed.
There are three major drug offense acts in Korea: 1) the Narcotics Act for regulating raw opium and opium poppy, cocaine, and heroin; 2) the Cannabis Control Act for regulating marijuana; and 3) the Psychotropic Substances Control Act for regulating methamphetamine, its derivatives and acid-ephedrine. In general it is a crime to sell, produce, cultivate, manufacture, smuggle, possess, or use the substances or materials listed above and to be involved in behaviors violating the above Acts.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
During the late 1980s, South Korea experienced a jump in its traditionally low rates of violent crime. A growing number of violent crimes were directed against women, a fact that drew special public concern.
The Korean National Police authorities denied that there was any "organized crime" in South Korea, although police boxes in Seoul in 1990 posted signs encouraging citizens to report any information concerning p'ongnyokpae, violent bands of men armed with knives and improvised weapons who contributed to the rise in violent assaults throughout the city. Although there were some ties between Japan's underworld--the yakuza (Japanese gangsters)--and South Korean criminal groups through ethnic Koreans residing in Japan, yakuza "bosses" did not direct the extension of yakuza activities into South Korea. Nevertheless, the disturbing increase in violent crime and apparent disputes between criminal groups suggested that if organized crime did not yet exist in South Korea in 1989, its precursors were evident.
Historically, narcotics abuse in South Korea had been very low, was confined primarily to marginal urban low-income groups, and did not include either heroin or cocaine abuse. In the late 1980s, narcotics abuse remained low but had steadily increased, becoming a social and political issue. In reaction to this increase, enforcement responsibility was transferred from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs to the Narcotics Division of the Supreme Prosecution Administration under the Ministry of Justice. This action gave narcotics enforcement a higher priority, more staffing, and more funding. (Drug-related arrests had increased from 810 in 1985 to 1,227 in 1987 and to 1,606 in 1988.) Most drug-related criminal activity involved the manufacture or abuse of methamphetamine and South Korea's emergence as a major Asian producer of hirropon, an illicit methamphetamine. A related problem was transshipment of Asian heroin destined for the United States and other world markets.
The crime rate in South Korea is low compared to more industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for South Korea. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. South Korea will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2000 was 1.99 per 100,000 population for South Korea, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2000 was 4.86 for South Korea, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 32.05 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2000 was 11.55 for South Korea, 4.08 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2000 was 68.63 for South Korea, 23.78 for Japan, and 323.62 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2000 was 7.43 for South Korea, 233.60 for Japan, and 728.42 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2000 was 296.96 for South Korea, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2475.27 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2000 was not reported. The rate for all index offenses combined was 391.42 for South Korea, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4123.97 for USA. (Note that the rate for motor vehicle theft was omitted from this total for South Korea)
TRENDS IN CRIME
Between 1995 and 2000, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder increased from 1.50 to 1.99 per 100,000 population, an increase of 32.7%. The rate for rape increased from 3.98 to 4.86, an increase of 22.1%. The rate of robbery increased from 8.73 to 11.55, an increase of 32.3%. The rate for aggravated assault decreased from 442.99 to 68.63, a decrease of 84.5%. The rate for burglary increased from 6.23 to 7.43, an increase of 19.3%. The rate of larceny increased from 0.66 to 296.96, an increase of 44893.9%. The rate of motor vehicle theft was not reported in either 1995 or 2000. The rate of total index offenses decreased from 464.09 to 391.42, a decrease of 15.7%. (Note that motor vehicle theft was missing data for both 1995 and 2000 and not included in these index computations)
Korea has adopted much of the Continental or Civil Legal System. Explicitly written legal codes, including constitutional law, have been effected in all the relevant areas conceivable. Thus, in all legal problems, written rules of law are the primary sources of reference. The Criminal Law consists of a general part and a special part. The general part deals with the scope and application of the law. The various types of justification, excuse, insanity defense, accountability, failed attempt, co-offender, and the types of punishment prescribed are in the general part of the law. The special part encompasses the various types of crime that are proscribed. In addition, a multitude of special criminal acts, such as Drug Laws, Laws for Additional Punishment for Special Economic Crimes, and Laws for Punishment of Misdemeanors, are also prescribed for additional punishment of certain types of crime or for punishment of certain types of crime not specified in criminal law.
The Criminal Procedure Law takes an explicitly prescribed form, based on an accusatorial system. The basic structure of criminal procedure takes on the nature of both an inquisitorial and adversarial system. This is primarily due to the nature of Korean criminal procedure, which is a merger of American and German criminal procedures.
The legal culture in Korea often takes on a traditional nature. People are not used to resolving conflicts through the court. Rather, an informal resolution, such as coordination or conciliation, more often provides justice.
Organized by the United States Army Military Government in 1945, the Korean National Police (KNP) force was formally activated in 1948 by the new Korean government and placed under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Even after the establishment of a separate military service in 1948, the police force retained a paramilitary role and was employed in military operations during the Korean War.
Attacked in its early years as a remnant of Japanese colonial rule (1910-45), beset by low professionalism, factionalism, endemic corruption, and political manipulation, the Korean National Police nonetheless still evolved into a relatively modern and effective force. Although the police force was used by the Rhee regime in such a flagrantly political way that it was held in low esteem by the citizenry, reforms made after the 1961 military coup began the police force's slow evolution into a professional force. Reorganization, recruitment by examination, merit promotion, and modern concepts of management and training were instituted. Further improvements came during the 1970s when modern communication, data processing, and crime detection practices were introduced.
In 1975 the director general of the KNP was elevated to vice- ministerial rank directly under the minister of home affairs. The KNP reported through its own channels to its headquarters in Seoul. Provincial governors and local officials had no authority over the police.
In addition to the regular police functions of law enforcement, criminal investigation, and public safety, the KNP was responsible for riot control, countering student demonstrations, and other public disorders. Coastal security, including patrolling coastal waters, antismuggling operations, and coordinating counterespionage operations with the navy and the air force, were also its purview. "Combat operations" against small-scale North Korean infiltration attempts; the monitoring of foreign residents in South Korea; anticommunist operations, including counterintelligence activities and monitoring of "security risks" (historically expanded to including monitoring political, labor, economic, academic, religious, and cultural figures); and counterterrorist operations were all part of the mission of the KNP. There sometimes was competitive overlap between the KNP, ANSP, and the DSC.
In 1989 the KNP was a 130,000-person organization that consisted of a headquarters, thirteen metropolitan/provincial police bureaus, the Combat Police, the National Maritime Police, an antiterrorist unit, the Central Police Academy, and other support services, such as a forensics laboratory, a hospital, and other police schools. As of January 1989, there were 201 police stations and 3,220 police substations and detachments throughout the country.
The National Police Headquarters exercised authority over all police components. Metropolitan and provincial police bureaus were responsible for maintaining public order by directing and supervising their own police stations.
The police station was responsible for maintaining public peace within its own precinct. The police station had seven functioning sections: an administration and public safety section, responsibile for operation and supervision of police substations and boxes, litigation of minor offenses, traffic control, and crime prevention; a security section, responsible for maintaining public order; an investigation section for investigating criminal incidents, lawsuits, booking criminals, custody of suspects, detention-cell management, and transference of cases and suspects involved in criminal cases to prosecution authorities; a criminal section responsibile for crime prevention; a counterespionage section; and an intelligence section, responsible for collection of intelligence and information. The police substation or police box took preliminary actions in all criminal incidents, civic services, and accidents.
Police boxes were the South Korean equivalent of the cop on the beat. They provided direct contact between the people and the police. Police box personnel were supposed to know their areas and the people who lived and worked in them. Police boxes were commanded by lieutenants or sergeants and had reaction vehicles available on a twenty-four-hour basis.
Weighed down by a wide range of administrative duties, KNP personnel spent only 15 percent of their time on routine enforcement duties in 1989. Among other things, the KNP collected fines, approved death certificates, and processed security checks for passport applicants. The personnel shortage was acute; official statistics showed that there was only one police officer (excluding the Combat Police, who accounted for nearly half the strength of the KNP) for every 680 South Koreans, as compared with one police officer for every 390 people in the United States, one for every 318 people in West Germany, and one for every 551 people in Japan (the lowest ratio for any major industrialized noncommunist country). This shortage was compounded by a tight budget and the continued preoccupation with riot control, which left the force ill equipped to deal with the demands of an increasingly affluent and sophisticated society.
Recruitment and training were done through the Central Police Academy, the National Police College, and the Police Consolidated Training School. The Central Police Academy was established in 1987. It had a maximum capacity of 35,000 recruits and was capable of simultaneously offering a six-week training course for police recruits, a two-week training course for draftees of the Combat Police, and a variety of basic specialized training courses for junior police. Officials planned to recruit about 10,000 new police officers a year from 1989 to 1991 to alleviate the personnel shortage, although their ability to maintain the quality of the force, given the low starting pay, was questioned. Only 12 percent of police applicants were university graduates in 1989. Screening unsuitable recruits was problematic because neither psychiatric nor polygraph assessments were administered. (In 1982, for example, an unstable police officer killed fifty- four people in one night following a domestic dispute.)
By 1989 the National Police College had graduated some 500 officers since its first class graduated in 1985. Each college class had about 120 police cadets, divided between law and public administration specializations. The National Police College began admitting women in 1989; five women were admitted each year. The cadets shared a collective life for four years at the college. The goal was to establish a career officers corps similar to those created by the military academies.
The Police Consolidated Training School provided advanced studies, basic training for junior police staff, and special practical training courses for security and investigative officers from the counterespionage echelons of police agencies. It also trained Maritime Police instructors, key command personnel for the Combat Police force, and foreign-language staff members.
Revolvers and carbines were the customary weapons; billy clubs were carried by patrol officers. The gradual replacement of carbines by rifles began in 1981. In 1989 the KNP reemphasized the planned replacement of carbines with M-16 rifles. Approximately 4,300 M-16s were to be supplied to police boxes and stations in 1989; by 1999 a total of 110,000 M-16s were scheduled to be distributed. Transportation was by motorcycle, bicycle, jeep, truck, and squad car.
The KNP's special weapons and tactics squad was known as Force 868. Organized in 1982, its members were trained in martial arts and counterterrorist tactics. It received significant support and advice from United States and West European counterterrorist task forces preceding the 1988 Seoul Olympics and was well supplied with the more specialized equipment needed for combating terrorism.
The Combat Police force was technically subordinate to the Ministry of National Defense, but the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Korean National Police were responsible for its operational management and budget. During hostilities, the Combat Police reverted to the Ministry of National Defense. The members of the Combat Police were conscripted at age twenty or older and served for approximately two-and-a-half years. Divided into companies, the Combat Police force was assigned to the metropolitan police bureaus. Except for supervisory personnel who were regular KNP officers, the Combat Police were paramilitary; their primary responsibilities were riot control and counterinfiltration. Under normal conditions, they did not have law enforcement powers as did regular KNP officers. In 1967 the Combat Police force was organized to handle counterinfiltration and antiriot duties.
Approximately half of the total strength of the KNP was formed into 350 Combat Police/riot control companies. The percentage of Combat Police in the total force increased during the 1980s. In 1982 there were 39,706 Combat Police, about 40 percent of the police total. By 1987 Combat Police represented 45.8 percent of the total force with 54,100 members. Since service in the Combat Police was regarded as fulfilling a military obligation, young men who did not wish to serve the compulsory minimum thirty-month service in the military could opt for a thirty-five-month stint with the Korean National Police as combat police. Draftees into military service also could be assigned to the Combat Police force after completion of basic training.
While the police were relatively well trained and disciplined, illegal police behavior in the conduct of investigations or handling of suspects was occasionally a serious problem. In 1985, for example, as a result of some form of official misconduct, one-fourth of Seoul's detectives were transferred, demoted, or otherwise disciplined. Rough treatment of suspects before a warrant was obtained was a continuing problem. Redress in cases of official misconduct normally was handled internally and rarely resulted in criminal charges against police officials.
Historically, the use of excessive force by the police was pervasive. In violent confrontations with student demonstrators, police units generally remained well disciplined, but rioters were beaten on apprehension, often by plainclothes police. Charges of police beatings in nonpolitical cases were made fairly frequently and sometimes were reported in the press. Antigovernment youth activists were subjected to repeated and severe physical torture, at times resulting in death during interrogations. Various degrees of physical maltreatment, including sleep and food deprivation, electric shocks, beating, and forced water intake were common during police interrogations under the Rhee, Park, and Chun regimes. With the founding of the Sixth Republic, such reports declined. However, according to the United States Department of State's reports on human rights, some credible allegations of torture were made during the last half of 1989 by persons arrested under the National Security Act. Credible allegations of cruel treatment also continued in 1990. Although political cases received the most publicity, mistreatment of people detained or arrested for nonpolitical crimes is alleged to be widespread.
Today, responsibility for maintaining internal security lies with the National Intelligence Service (NIS--formerly known as the National Security Planning Agency), the National Police Administration (NPA--formerly known as the Korean National Police), and the Defense Security Command (DSC). Legislation passed in 1993 bars the NIS and the DSC from involvement in domestic politics and grants the NIS investigative authority only in cases involving terrorism, espionage, and international crime organizations. The Government revised this law in 1996 to allow the NIS to investigate members of domestic organizations that are viewed as supporting the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). Some members of the police were responsible for occasional human rights abuses.
There were no reports of arbitrary or unlawful deprivations of life committed by the Government or its agents.
To investigate and redress complaints that officials of past military governments had tortured and killed prodemocracy activists, the Government enacted the Special Act on the Investigation of Suspicious Deaths. As a result of this legislation, in August 2000 a nine-person panel was commissioned to review cases such as the 1960 student uprising and the 1980 Kwangju civil uprising, and shed light on the circumstances surrounding the arrests and deaths of prodemocracy activists. The Commission reviewed 83 cases, and in June it determined the 1984 death of Park Young Doo in Chungsong Prison to be a case of extrajudicial killing. In September it revealed that the 1979 death of Kwangju University student Kim Joon Bae was caused by a police beating; the Commission is reviewing the possibility of charging the responsible officer.
The Penal Code prohibits the mistreatment of suspects; the Government has ordered investigating authorities to protect the human rights of suspects; and allegations of abuse by authorities of those in custody for questioning continued to decline. Nonetheless police sometimes abused persons in custody. Prosecutors continued to place emphasis on securing convictions through confessions. This focus is driven by cultural factors, with confession viewed as a necessary basis for the reform and rehabilitation of convicted defendants. While the Supreme Court has ruled that confessions obtained after suspects have been deprived of sleep during an interrogation cannot be used in court, police sometimes questioned suspects throughout the night. Credible sources also reported that in some cases police verbally or physically abused suspects, including beatings, threats, and sexual intimidation in the course of arrest and police interrogation. However, human rights groups report that the number of such cases continued to decline. In 1999 the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) announced that criminal suspects, who previously had been required to wear prison garb in court, would be allowed to wear street clothes until proven guilty.
In April and June, police used force to break up demonstrations, some of which had turned violent. In a demonstration at a Daewoo factory in April, 40 demonstrators and 55 police officers were injured. The President later expressed deep regret for the excessive use of force by police in this incident. On February 19, during a previous demonstration at the Daewoo factory, the police intervened at the request of Daewoo management to prevent further destruction of company property. Arrests were made, and numerous Daewoo workers and policemen were injured.
In the past, police and security officials who abused or harassed suspects rarely were punished. However, in recent years, under the National Public Service Law and criminal law, a number of police and security officials accused of abuse or harassment have been punished or disciplined through demotion, pay cuts, and dismissal.
To investigate and redress the complaints of former detainees who claimed that officials of past military-backed governments tortured them or inflicted excessive punishments, the Government in May 2000 enacted the Special Act on the Investigation of Suspicious Deaths and the Act on the Restoration of the Honor of and Compensation for Persons Engaged in the Democratic Movement. In 2000 a panel was commissioned to review cases. In September the Commission found that the 1979 death of Kim Joon Bae was the result of a beating by the police. The Commission also was reviewing over 2,000 cases related to restoring the honor of democracy activists and compensating them for past sufferings.
In general the Government respects the integrity of the home and family. In the past, the security services conducted varying degrees of surveillance, including wiretaps of political dissidents. The Antiwiretap Law and the law to reform the NIS (formerly known as the National Security Planning Agency) were designed to curb government surveillance of civilians and largely appear to have succeeded. The Antiwiretap Law lays out broad conditions under which the monitoring of telephone calls, mail, and other forms of communication are legal. It requires government officials to secure a judge's permission before placing wiretaps, or, in the event of an emergency, soon after placing them, and it provides for jail terms for persons who violate this law. Revisions of the law intended to protect privacy more strictly have been submitted to the National Assembly and are under discussion. There is as yet no consensus on whether those monitored should be subsequently informed after the wiretap is discontinued, on the scope and type of crimes which require wiretapping as part of an investigation, and on the legal procedure required by investigating authorities to gain access to telephone records. Some human rights groups argue that a considerable amount of illegal wiretapping, shadowing, and surveillance photography still occurs, and they assert that the lack of an independent body to investigate whether police have employed illegal wiretaps hinders the effectiveness of the Antiwiretap Law.
Several opposition legislators have alleged that they are under surveillance by the Government and that their homes, offices, and cellular telephones are tapped. They have called for either tightening or abolishing a provision in the existing law that allows government officials to obtain retroactive judicial permission to monitor a conversation (especially a cellular telephone call) in the event of an emergency.
The Government continued to require released political prisoners to report regularly to the police under the Social Surveillance Law.
The NSL forbids citizens from listening to North Korean radio in their homes or reading books published in North Korea if the Government determines that they are doing so to help North Korea. However, in 1999 the Government legalized the viewing of North Korean satellite telecasts in private homes. The Government also allows the personal perusal of North Korean books, music, television programs, and movies as a means to promote understanding and reconciliation with North Korea.
Student groups make credible claims that government informants are posted on university campuses.
Laws regarding arrest and detention often are vague, and prosecutors have wide latitude to interpret them. For example, the National Security Law (NSL) defines espionage in broad terms and permits the authorities to detain and arrest persons who commit acts viewed as supporting North Korea, and therefore deemed dangerous to the country. Specifically, the NSL permits the imprisonment for up to 7 years of anyone who "with the knowledge that he might endanger the existence or security of the State or the basic order of free democracy, praised, encouraged, propagandized for, or sided with the activities of an antistate organization." The legal standard for knowing that one might endanger the security of the State is vague. Consequently, in addition to those arrested on suspicion of spying for North Korea, a number of persons have been arrested for what appeared to be the peaceful expression of opposing views that the Government considered pro-North Korean or antistate. Among those arrested under the NSL are those who praised North Korea, its former leader Kim Il Sung, or North Korea's "self-reliance" or "juche" philosophy.
In February a foreign citizen was arrested and charged with violating the NSL. Involvement in publishing a book on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's reunification strategy, contact with allegedly pro-North Korean figures abroad, actions allegedly carried out overseas, and travel to North Korea formed the basis for prosecution. In July he was convicted of violating NSL Articles 7 (praising or promoting an antigovernment organization) and 6 (escaping from Korea to receive instruction from an antistate organization and infiltrating into Korea in order to carry out an objective). He was sentenced by the Seoul District Court to 3 years' imprisonment, with the sentence suspended. In August 16 members of a group who went to Pyongyang as a delegation to an inter-Korean Independence Day Festival allegedly broke a pledge not to engage in political activities. They were arrested for violating the NSL after they attended a rally at a monument dedicated to Kim Il Sung, the former leader of North Korea, and allegedly supported the North Korean unification policy.
The U.N. Human Rights Committee has termed the NSL "a major obstacle to the full realization of the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." President Kim Dae-jung, who himself was arrested and sentenced to death under the NSL, acknowledged that the law has "problematic areas," and announced his intent to pursue major revisions, especially in light of improvements in relations between North and South Korea since the June 2000 North-South summit. Debate in the National Assembly on revising the NSL is ongoing. According to MOJ data, as of August, 86 persons had been arrested for violating the NSL, compared to the 154 persons arrested in the corresponding period in 2000. By year's end 2001, 52 persons remained in custody for violating the NSL.
The Government's rationale for retaining the NSL has been that North Korea actively is trying to subvert the Government and society and that due to this special circumstance, some forms of expression must be limited to block the greater danger to freedom and democracy posed by North Korean totalitarianism. The effect sometimes is to relieve the Government of the burden of proof in a court of law that any particular speech or action in fact threatens the nation's security. For example, although the Government continues to seek to expand North-South exchanges and cooperation, in the past citizens have been prosecuted for unauthorized travel to North Korea.
The Criminal Code requires warrants to be issued by judges in cases of arrest, detention, seizure, or search, except if a person is apprehended while committing a criminal act, or if a judge is not available and the authorities believe that a suspect may destroy evidence or escape capture if not quickly arrested. In such emergency cases, judges must issue arrest warrants within 48 hours after apprehension, or, if a court is not located in the same county, within 72 hours. Police may detain suspects who appear voluntarily for questioning for up to 6 hours but must notify the suspects' families. The police generally respected these requirements.
Authorities normally must release suspects after 30 days unless an indictment is issued. Consequently detainees are a relatively small percentage of the total prison population.
The Constitution provides for the right to representation by an attorney, and in 1999 the National Police Agency announced that it would enforce a suspect's right to have a lawyer present during police interrogation. The Ministry of Justice announced in May 2000 that all prosecutors' offices had installed rooms where suspects could consult with their lawyers. Starting in 2000, individual police stations employed lawyers as legal advisors to aid in examining relevant legal clauses in charging suspects. There were no reports of access to legal counsel being denied. There is a bail system, but human rights lawyers say that bail generally is not granted when detainees are charged with committing serious offenses, when they may attempt to flee or harm a previous victim, or when they have no fixed address. However, in August as part of a massive tax and trade law investigation, judges allowed prosecutors to arrest the president of the newspaper Chosun-Ilbo, Bang Sang-hoon, the former honorary chairman of the newspaper Dong-A-Ilbo, Kim Byung-kwan, and the former president of the newspaper Kookmin Ilbo, Cho Hee-joon, stating that they might flee or destroy evidence if allowed to remain free. The prominent media figures as a courtesy were given individual cells. On October 27, Kim Byung-kwan was released from prison due to ill health. On November 6, Bang Sang-hoon was released, and on November 7 Cho Hee Jun was released. At year's end 2001, the trials of all three remained pending.
The Government does not use forced exile.
The administration of justice was the function of the courts as established under the Constitution and the much-amended Court Organization Law of 1949. A number of provisions of the 1987 Constitution were intended to improve judicial independence, which was long held, even within the judiciary itself, to be inadequate.
At the top of the court system in 1990 was the Supreme Court, whose justices served six-year terms, giving them a measure of independence from the president, whose single term was only five years (lower-level judges served ten-year terms.) All other judges were appointed by the Conference of Supreme Court Justices and the chief justice. This process reverses the more centralized appointment process that had been in place since the yusin system of 1972, in which the chief justice (under the direction of the president, in practice) appointed lower court judges. All but the chief justice may be reappointed. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in all cases, including courts-martial; except for death sentences, however, military trials under extraordinary martial law may not be appealed.
High Courts in Seoul, Kwangju, and Taegu hear appeals against decisions of lower courts in civil and criminal cases. They also may assume jurisdiction over litigation brought against government agencies or civil officials. Courts of first instance for most civil and criminal matters are the district courts in Seoul and major provincial cities. The Family Court in Seoul handles matrimonial, juvenile, and other family law matters; in other cities such issues are adjudicated in the district courts.
The Constitution divides responsibility for constitutional review of laws and administrative regulations between the Supreme Court and the Constitution Court. The Supreme Court reviews only regulations, decrees, and other enactments issued by the various ministries of other government agencies. The constitutionality or legality of the regulation to be reviewed must be at issue in an ongoing trial. The Constitution Court has much broader powers. It decides on the constitutionality of laws enacted by the National Assembly when requested by a court to aid in the resolution of a trial, or in response to a constitutional petition, which may be brought by any person who has exhausted available legal remedies. The Constitution Court also has exclusive power to rule on the dissolution of political parties and impeachment of the president, cabinet members, and other high officials. All nine members of the Constitution Court must be qualified to be judges. The president, National Assembly, and chief justice each select three members of the court's nine-member panel.
The Constitution Court began operation in late 1988. Unlike its predecessors, which since the early 1960s had made only three rulings, the new body gave rulings in 400 of the more than 500 cases considered during its first year. Most of the cases heard were constitutional petitions. In a series of major decisions, the court declared unconstitutional a law prohibiting creditors from suing the government, directed the National Assembly to revise a portion of the National Assembly Law requiring independent candidates to pay twice the deposit of partyaffiliated candidates, declared the Act Concerning Protection of Society unconstitutional, and upheld the constitutionality of a law prohibiting third-party involvement in labor disputes.
In the absence of martial law or emergency decrees, both of which historically had been exercised by the government and provisions for which remained in the 1987 Constitution, criminal procedure in other than political cases followed a set format. Both public prosecutors and the police were authorized to conduct investigations of criminal acts. Public prosecutors were under the direction and supervision of the Office of the Supreme Prosecutor General; the supreme prosecutor general was appointed by the president. In 1990 there were four branches of the Office of the High Prosecutor General and fourteen district offices. Theoretically, police authority to investigate criminal acts was subordinate to the direction and review of the prosecutors. Also, the arrest of a suspect required a judicial warrant except in cases of flagrante delicto or when it was believed that the suspect would flee or commit the act again. The request for a warrant could be made only by the prosecutor.
After an arrest, the suspect had to be transferred to the public prosecutor within ten days and indicted within ten days of the prosecutor's gaining custody. The judge was permitted to extend detention another ten days', the suspect could request court review of the legality of detention.
The public prosecutor initiated legal action. The name of the accused, the alleged crime, the alleged facts of the case, and the applicable laws were stated in the indictment. The prosecutor had significant discretionary power to decide not to bring the case to court based on his interpretation of the law and evidence, or in consideration of a suspect's age, character, motive, or other circumstances, even though a crime had been committed.
Prosecutors normally indicted only when they accumulated what they considered overwhelming evidence of a suspect's guilt. The courts, historically, were predisposed to accept the allegations of fact in an indictment. This predisposition was reflected in both the low acquittal rate--less than 0.5 percent--in criminal cases and in the frequent verbatim repetition of the indictment as the judgment. The principle of "innocent until proven guilty" applied in practice much more to the pre-indictment investigation than to the actual trial.
During the 1980s, there was a dispute within the legal system over the judiciary's power to check prosecution. The prosecution and judiciary differed over whether or not the law gave the judiciary grounds to arraign suspects before issuing warrants. The judiciary tried repeatedly in the 1980s to institutionalize this right and in 1989 asserted it in a proceeding. The judiciary was not able to compel the prosecution to accept this view, however.
At the prosecutor's discretion, a case could be brought before the court by summary indictment if the offense were punishable by fines. In such a case, the judge gave a summary judgment without holding a public hearing. The accused could request an ordinary trial.
Once indicted, the accused had the right to be released on bail. Exceptions could be made if the offense were punishable by death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment over ten years; if the defendant were a recidivist; if there were suspicion that the defendant would destroy evidence; or if there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the defendant would flee; or if the residence of the defendant were unknown. In 1989 bail was granted in a National Security Act case for the first time.
The constitutional right to representation by an attorney was not interpreted as applying to the investigation and interrogation phases. In National Security Act cases, access to counsel was regularly denied during the investigation phase. In 1989 lawyers sought court orders granting access, but neither the ANSP nor the Prosecutor General's Office felt compelled to comply when the National Security Act was involved.
There was no jury system. Cases that involved offenses punishable by the death penalty, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for not less than one year were tried by three judges of a district or branch court. The remaining cases were heard by a single judge. Political and criminal cases were tried by the same courts; military courts did not try civilians except under martial law.
At least five days before trial, the defendant was served a copy of the indictment. The defendant had to be represented by counsel if the offenses were punishable by death or imprisonment for more than three years. The court appointed defense counsel if the defendant was unable to do so because of age, mental capacity, poverty, or other handicaps that might impair choice or communication.
Hearings generally were open to the public. If danger to national security or prejudice to public peace or good morals were involved, the judge could close the proceedings. Charges against defendants in the courts were declared publicly. Trial documents, however, were not part of the public record. In lengthy and complex indictments, the relationship between specific alleged actions and violations of specific sections of the penal code could become unclear. In cases involving a mixture of political and criminal charges, this situation at times led to charges of unfair proceedings. A defendant had the right to remain silent and free from physical restraint in the courtroom. Judges generally allowed considerable scope for the examination of witnesses.
Either the defendant or the prosecutor could appeal a judgment on the basis of law or fact. Appeals could result in reduced or increased sentences. A Constitution Court was established in 1988 to relieve the burden on the Supreme Court. When the constitutionality of a law was at issue in a trial, the Supreme Court requested a decision of the Constitution Court. The president, chief justice, and the National Assembly each named three members of the nine-member Constitution Court.
The Supreme Court retained the power to make final review of the constitutionality or legality of administrative decrees, regulations, or actions when at issue in a trial. Grounds for an appeal to the Supreme Court were limited by the Code of Criminal Procedure to violation of the Constitution, law, or regulation material to the judgment; abolition, alteration, or pardon of penalty; a grave mistake in factfinding; or extreme impropriety in sentencing. An interpretation of law in an appeal had binding effect on the inferior court only when the case was remanded. In other cases, however, a decision of the Supreme Court only had persuasive effect.
Judges were trained professionally and were among the best products of one of the toughest education systems in the world. The qualifications for a judge were the completion of two years of courses at the Judicial Research and Training Institute after passing the national judicial examination, or the possession of qualifications as a prosecutor or an attorney. Judges were members of a tiny elite; the institute had only 3,692 graduates from 1949 to 1988. In 1988 there were only 940 judges, 668 prosecutors, and 1,593 practicing attorneys. There were additional requirements for higher positions: fifteen years of legal experience for the chief justice and justices of the Supreme Court; ten years of experience for the chief judge of an appellate court, the chief judge of a district court, the chief judge of a family court, and the senior judge of an appellate court; and five years of experience for the judge of an appellate court, the senior judge of a district court, and the senior judge of a family court. South Korea's president, with the consent of the National Assembly, appointed both the chief justice and, upon the recommendation of the chief justice, the other justices of the Supreme Court. Under the 1987 Constitution and the Court Organization Law, lower justices were appointed by the chief justice with the consent of the Conference of Supreme Court Justices.
Historically, the executive branch exercised great influence on judicial decisions. However, there were some indications of increased judicial independence in 1989. In a number of cases, the Constitution Court found that the government had violated the constitutional rights of individuals. Moreover, the Supreme Court invalidated the results of the elections for two National Assembly seats, citing election law violations by victorious ruling party candidates.
Penal administration was controlled and supervised by the Ministry of Justice. There were four detention facilities (for unconvicted detainees), twenty-seven correctional institutions, ten juvenile training institutes, and four juvenile classification homes. Conditions in correctional institutions were austere and particularly harsh in winter. Discipline was strict. Prisoners who broke rules or protested conditions sometimes were physically abused. Under normal circumstances, however, convicts were not physically punished. Most accusations of mistreatment involved persons detained or awaiting trial in detention facilities, rather than those who were already convicted and serving their sentences in prison. Visitation was strictly limited to legal counsel and immediate families. Mail was subject to monitoring and occasional censorship. There was no significant difference in the treatment of prisoners on the basis of wealth, social class, race, or sex. The treatment of political prisoners could be better or worse than that of regular prisoners. On some occasions, special provisions were allowed for political prisoners, and as late as 1989 it also was alleged by human rights activists that political prisoners sometimes were subjected to sleep deprivation and psychological pressure.
There were a number of probationary devices that permitted police to supervise suspected or convicted criminals, including deferral of prosecution and suspension of sentence. These measures increased judicial flexibility and were often used to show clemency. Probationary devices also had frequently been used to ensure that released political offenders behaved in a manner acceptable to the government. Criminals who showed repentance regularly were freed in amnesties, often linked to holidays. Amnesty often was declared to showcase the beneficence of the state in forgiving criminals.
Today, the Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and in recent years, the judiciary has shown increasing independence. The Prosecutor's Office, which is under the jurisdiction of the MOJ, has been accused of influence peddling and cronyism, and the independence of the Prosecutor's Office (especially in cases involving government officials or political figures) is often called into question by the media and the political opposition. In late 2000, the opposition in the National Assembly alleged that the Prosecutor General and his deputy attempted to cover up lobbying activities by wives of high government officials. The President appoints the Chief Justice and most justices of the Constitutional Court. Although judges do not receive life appointments, they cannot be fired or transferred for political reasons. In June a court ruled that two members of the National Assembly must lose their seats for election law violations. Additional legislators of various parties are awaiting trial on similar charges. In July judges rejected prosecutors' request for arrest warrants for two of a group of five newspaper owners and executives.
Local courts are presided over by judges who render verdicts in all cases. There is no trial by jury. Defendants can appeal a verdict to a district appeals court and to the Supreme Court. Constitutional challenges can be taken to the Constitutional Court.
The Constitution provides defendants with a number of rights in criminal trials including the presumption of innocence, protection against self-incrimination, freedom from retroactive laws and double jeopardy, the right to a speedy trial, and the right of appeal. When a person is detained physically, the initial trial must be completed within 6 months of arrest. These rights generally are observed. Trials are open to the public, but the judge may restrict attendance if he believes spectators may seek to disrupt the proceedings.
Judges generally allow considerable scope for examination of witnesses by both the prosecution and defense. Cases involving national security and criminal matters are tried by the same courts. Although convictions rarely are overturned, appeals often result in reduced sentences. Death sentences are appealed automatically.
Human rights groups believe that many dissidents tried by past military governments during the 1970's and 1980's were sentenced to long prison terms on false charges of spying for North Korea. These persons reportedly were held incommunicado for up to 60 days after their arrest, subjected to extreme forms of torture, forced to make "confessions," and convicted after trials that did not conform to international standards for a fair trial. To investigate and redress complaints that officials of past military governments tortured former detainees, in 2000 the Government enacted the Act on the Restoration of the Honor of and Compensation for Persons Engaged in the Democratic Movements. In 1998 the Government repealed the system by which "ideological prisoners" had to renounce their real or alleged beliefs and instituted a system by which prisoners had to sign a written promise to obey the law and pledge to recognize the Republic of Korea in order to be released from prison. Although the new system was a significant step for the Government, human rights groups criticized the requirement of a promise to obey the law, including the NSL, as tantamount to forcing citizens to renounce their beliefs. However, on the occasion of a special presidential amnesty in March 1999, 17 long-term, unconverted prisoners (persons who had refused to renounce allegiance to the DPRK and Communist beliefs), were released without having to renounce their beliefs or sign an oath of obedience. Included among these was U Yong-gak, who had served 41 years in prison following his conviction on espionage charges. However, released prisoners were required to report their activities regularly to the police. In September 2000, 63 North Korean spies, who had been released from South Korean prisons, were allowed to return to North Korea per their wishes. According to the Ministry of Justice, no long-term, unconverted prisoners remain incarcerated.
It is difficult to estimate the number of political prisoners because it is not clear whether particular persons were arrested for merely exercising the rights of free speech or association or were detained for committing acts of violence or espionage. Some human rights monitors reported that 284 persons (including 71 arrested for NSL violations) were political prisoners, with 179 still imprisoned after July. However, these monitors' definition of a political prisoner often includes all persons imprisoned for politically motivated acts, including violations of the NSL, of the Assembly of Demonstration Act, and of the Trade Union Act, and for violence or interference with official duties in the course of demonstrations or strikes. The number of political prisoners and detainees as defined by international standards appears to number under 200.
There are a total f 39 correctional facilities: 26 prisons, 2 juvenile prisons, 1 women's prison, 1 open prison, 5 detention houses, 2 social protection houses, 1 branch prison and 1 branch detention house
All the prisons are centrally administered and controlled by the Director-General of the Correction Bureau under the Minister of Justice.
As of December 31, 1992, there were 10,515 correctional staff personnel. This provides for an inmate to staff ratio of about 1 to 5. Almost all of staff members are Korean and male.
Correctional officials are appointed according to the procedure for new employment, promotion and transfer prescribed in the State Civil Service Law and its Decree. The guards at the lowest level are appointed through open competitive examinations prescribed in the State Civil Service Appointment Ordinance and its Enforcement Decree.
For newly appointed correctional officials, both general training programs and the on-the-job training are provided by the Ministry of Justice, which usually takes 6 to 20 weeks.
Good behavior is rewarded in many ways. Release on parole is a good example. In general those who are eligible for parole release are convicted prisoners who have shown clear signs of rehabilitation and have passed one third of the sentenced term with good behavior.
Parole is extensively granted to vocational trainees whose employment has been assured and those who have obtained qualified certification as skilled workers and winners of skill contests. General parole is granted each month and the number of those released on parole has increased. In the past, special parole and some remissions were granted twice a year on National Liberation Day and Christmas Day. The frequency of special parole has increased to five times a year on Independence Movement Day, Buddha's Birthday, National Liberation Day, National Foundation Day and Christmas Day.
Depending on the type of punishment, many inmates are required to work, attend classes and do other things. But not all inmates are required to do so.
Inmates may take many kinds of correctional education programs, such as living guidance education, moral training, and academic education programs. The prison terms are divided into several phases to gradually allow improved treatment, depending on the degree of the inmate's determination for self-improvement. Thus, following the notion of progressive treatment, inmates are expected to earn responsible credit points which may determine the level of various standards of progressive treatment for each inmate. In particular, to promote return to society, those who are eligible by relevant criteria are provided many kinds of privileges, such as treatment in open facilities, work release programs, furloughs for certain periods, and study tours in society.
Today, prison conditions are Spartan, but generally meet international standards. Prison diets are adequate, but the facilities offer little protection against cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Some prisoners claim that these conditions damaged their health and that medical care was inadequate. Inmates occasionally criticized guards for using excessive force or needlessly putting prisoners in manacles.
The Government has installed heating and sanitary systems in 43 prisons and hopes to install such systems, including cooling systems, in all prisons by 2003. In 1999 the Government instituted traveling clinic teams and equipped prison clinics with X-ray machines.
Inmate access to reading materials, telephones, and television broadcasts improved significantly in recent years. Education in computers and foreign languages, occupational training programs, and an Inmate Employment Center help inmates prepare to resume normal lives. Prisoners are allowed to receive three or four visitors four times per month. Model prisoners who have served more than one-third of their sentences are allowed unsupervised meetings with visitors and are exempt from mail censorship. Some are eligible for overnight leave. Pregnant inmates receive special treatment, including supplementary food, for the full term of their pregnancies and for an additional 6 months after giving birth. Pregnant inmates also receive prenatal care for the full term of their pregnancies. Female inmates may not be searched by male prison guards without the prior consent of the prison warden, and a female guard must be present during the search.
There is little independent monitoring of prison conditions, although representatives of human rights groups may visit certain prisoners at the discretion of the prison warden. Among the mandates of the newly established National Human Rights Commission are the inspection of prisons and recommendations for improvement of conditions.
Violence against women remained a problem, and some women's rights groups maintain that such violence, including spousal abuse, has worsened with the 1997 to 1998 decline of the economy. The Ministry of Gender Equality, established during the year 2001 to oversee issues related to women's rights and welfare, indicated that the number of cases of spousal abuse appears to be increasing because more women are coming forward to report abuse. The Prevention of Domestic Violence and Victim Protection Act defines domestic violence as a serious crime. Authorities can order offenders to stay away from victims for up to 6 months and to be put on probation or to see court-designated counselors. The law also requires police to respond immediately to reports of domestic violence. Women's groups praised the law as a significant step in combating domestic violence.
Rape remained a serious problem. As of October, 4,586 cases of rape had been reported, and 2,895 of the cases were prosecuted. Many rapes go unreported because of the stigma associated with being raped. The activities of a number of women's groups have increased awareness of the importance of reporting and prosecuting rapes, as well as of offenses such as sexual harassment in the workplace. The Prosecutor's office announced plans for a new system under which female prosecutors would take charge of all sex and family violence cases involving women. According to women's rights groups, cases involving sexual harassment or rape frequently go unprosecuted, and perpetrators of sex crimes, if convicted, often receive light sentences.
The country is a major origin and transit point for the trafficking in Asian women and children destined for the sex trade and domestic servitude.
As public awareness of the problem of child abuse continued to grow, the number of reported cases was increasing. According to one NGO's figures, 2,115 cases of child abuse were reported in 1999. The Seoul metropolitan government runs a children's counseling center that investigates reports of abuse, counsels families, and cares for runaway children. The Prevention of Domestic Violence and Victim Prevention Act of 1998, which defines domestic violence as a serious crime, allows a child to bring charges against a parent in cases of abuse. In July the Government enacted a revised Child Protection Law that mandates the establishment of a child abuse hot line and the dispatch of trained personnel to take preliminary measures for the protection of an abused child. Under the revised law, the Government is to establish temporary protection facilities, counseling centers, communal homes, and other appropriate protection services and facilities. Revisions also include increased penalties for convicted child abusers, who would face up to 5 years in prison (compared to the previous 2 years) for child abuse.
In 1999 the Government's Commission on Youth Protection, exercising its mandate to "regulate the circulation of harmful materials and substances and to protect youth from harmful entertainment establishments," revised the Youth Protection Law. Under the revised law, owners of entertainment establishments who hire minors under the age of 19 face prison terms of up to 10 years and a fine of $7,747 (10 million won) per minor hired. The Commission also announced that it was expanding the definition of "entertainment establishment" to include facilities, such as restaurants and cafes, where children sometimes were hired illegally as prostitutes. In addition, as part of a campaign to eradicate child prostitution and sexual offenses against minors, the Government enacted the Child Protection against Sexual Offenses Law in 2000. It established a maximum sentence of imprisonment of 20 years for the sale of the sexual services of persons less than 19 years of age. It also established prison terms for persons convicted of the purchase of sexual services of youth under the age of 19. Based on this law, the Commission enforced a decree to publicize the names of those who had committed sex offenses against minors. In August the names of 169 offenders were made public.
The traditional preference for male children continues, although it is less evident among persons in their twenties and thirties. Although the law bans fetal testing except when a woman's life is in danger, when a hereditary disease would be transmitted, or in cases of rape or incest, such testing and the subsequent termination of pregnancies with female fetuses frequently occur. The Government has expressed concern about the widening disparity between male and female birth rates.
The country is a major origin and transit point for trafficking in Asian women and children destined for the sex trade and domestic servitude
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
There is no single law that specifically prohibits trafficking in persons, although various statutes can be used to prosecute traffickers; trafficking is a problem.
The Republic of Korea is a country of origin, transit, and destination for trafficking in persons. Young female Koreans are trafficked primarily for sexual exploitation, mainly to the United States, but also to other Western countries and Japan. Female aliens from many countries, primarily Chinese women, are trafficked through Korea to the United States and many other parts of the world. In addition to trafficking through air, much transit traffic occurs in the country's territorial waterways by ship. There are also reports that women from Russia are trafficked to the country for sexual exploitation.
In addition the country is considered a major transit point for alien smugglers, including traffickers of primarily Asian women and children for the sex trade and domestic servitude. Relatively small numbers of Korean economic migrants, seeking opportunities abroad, are believed to have become victims of traffickers as well. There have been reports of the falsification of government documents by travel agencies; many cases involved the trafficking or smuggling of citizens of China to Western countries.
Various laws can be used to prosecute traffickers, including laws against kidnaping, inducement to prostitution, and laws protecting juveniles. These laws stipulate that proper security measures as well as financial assistance must be provided to trafficked victims when they report a trafficking crime.
The Criminal Code states that, "A person who kidnaps another by force or coercion for purposes of engaging in an indecent act or sexual intercourse, or for gain, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 1 year...this shall apply to a person who buys or sells a woman for the purpose of prostitution." The Labor Standards Law prohibits the employment of any person under 18 years of age in work that "is detrimental to morality or health." The Juvenile Sexual Protection Act that took effect in July 2000 imposes lengthy prison terms for persons convicted of sexual crimes against minors.
On August 29, the Supreme Prosecutor's Office established joint investigations centers in collaboration with the police force and local governments to address trafficking and inveigling of women for forcible sexual exploitation, for the forcible transfer to foreign territory for employment in "service establishments of indecent nature," for granting illegal entry into the country for purposes of sexual exploitation, for the sale of women between prostitution establishments, and for the illegal departure from the country through fake employment or marriage overseas.
There were several convictions during the year 2001 regarding trafficking: Two convictions with 2-3 years' imprisonment for arranging illegal entry into the United States for employment in the sex industry; three convictions with 2-3 years' imprisonment for detainment and forced prostitution; and three convictions with 1 year's imprisonment for confiscating passports and airline tickets of 23 Russian and Uzbek nationals.
In May 2000, police arrested 5 persons for visa fraud for the purpose of trafficking in aliens; the group had reportedly recruited more than 1,000 persons. In November 2000, police arrested Lim Il Kwon, a citizen convicted of past alien trafficking, on charges of document fraud. He admitted to the smuggling of women to Japan and Western countries for purposes of prostitution. Police believe that Lim was responsible for the trafficking of hundreds of persons. Police also arrested another suspected trafficker who admitted document fraud for international travel. In all of 2000, 585 persons were investigated on suspicion of smuggling of persons, with 103 arrested. As of October 2001, 536 persons had been investigated, with 142 arrests. Most arrests for these types of crimes are made on charges of travel document fraud, not trafficking itself.
Various laws stipulate that appropriate facilities such as temporary shelters, counseling assistance, medical treatment, and occupational training programs provide protection and assistance to trafficking victims. There are 131 women's welfare counseling centers, 184 sexual assault counseling centers, 269 welfare facilities, 12 self-support centers, and 16 self-help support centers. In 2000 a total of 8,648 persons made use of counseling centers, and 1,411 persons made use of protection facilities. These persons include victims of violence as well as victims of trafficking.
In November the Ministry of Gender Equality and the Ministry of Justice published booklets to publicize counseling centers and protection facilities for victims trafficked into prostitution.
The Government has worked with various NGO's to develop awareness of the issue and the prevention of trafficking.
The Republic of Korea (ROK-South Korea) has been a strong regional player in counter narcotics efforts in 1998. In June, the ROK hosted the Anti-drug Liaison Officials' Meeting for International Cooperation (ADLOMICO) conference, attended by 91 representatives from ca. 12.5 different countries. Regarding enforcement, there were no methamphetamine laboratories discovered in 1998 and availability of illicit drugs, primarily methamphetamine, increased only slightly. Korean authorities believe this increase is due mostly to the psychological and material effects of the economic crisis. The ROK supreme prosecutors office continued its nationwide drug education/demand reduction program during 1998. The ROK is a party to the 1998 UN Drug Convention.
Cocaine activity increased during 1998, both in transit to other areas including Japan and Hong Kong, and in use among Koreans. The incidents of heroin transiting Korea from Bangkok to various locations in the U.S. also increased dramatically in 1998 with a possible 85 kilograms (ca. 12.5 kilograms confirmed) reaching the U.S. Pro-active cooperation by Korean Customs with U.S. authorities led to arrests of those involved in the ROK.
The ROK has a comparatively modest drug problem. A slight increase in methamphetamine use has surfaced in the past year and importation of heroin and cocaine for local consumption has also increased. The most dramatic development, however, has been the increasing use of the ROK as a transit country for methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin trafficking to other consumer countries, including the U.S. Methamphetamine and heroin have traditionally entered the ROK for consumption from other countries in Asia. Cocaine, on the other hand, has entered the ROK from the U.S. Although the user population is relatively small (approximately 6000 arrests for a country of 40 million), heroin shipments to the U.S., transiting the ROK, supplied by a worldwide network of West African traffickers, have become a serious problem. Knowledge of the apparently growing use of Korea as a transit point for narcotics shipments to the U.S. is a very recent development. It is linked to recent investigative work by DEA and a new Korean anti-narcotics unit, only established in October of 1998. In a signally important case, two Filipino nationals residing in the ROK may have shipped a possible 85 kilograms of heroin ( ca. 12.5 kilograms confirmed) to various cities in the U.S.
Although methamphetamine has been previously produced in the ROK, evidence in 1998 suggests there is no longer any current production. Korean authorities have not discovered any laboratories during the period in question. The only other drug produced in Korea is marijuana. Marijuana, cultivated legally for hemp, which is used for fabrics and fertilizer, is grown in the northeast and southwest areas of the ROK. A portion of the licit marijuana crop is believed to be diverted for illegal use. A derivative of marijuana, hashish, is found only in small amounts in the ROK, and is believed to be imported by West Africans and Middle Eastern smugglers.
Demand reduction through drug awareness train-the-trainers methodology is carried out under the auspices of the Supreme Prosecutors Office. Every summer, representatives from the office travel throughout Korea and instruct teachers regarding the perils of drug usage, drug identification, and how to recognize and counsel students suspected of using drugs. This information is then passed along by the teachers to their students.
Although media reports of corruption among public officials in the ROK surface periodically, there is no evidence public officials were involved in narcotics trafficking in 1998, or that corruption adversely influenced narcotics law enforcement in Korea.
Methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin transit Korea for other locations. Methamphetamine is often destined for the U.S. via Guam. In 1998, a kilogram shipment from Manila, organized by Korean traffickers in Seoul, was seized by DEA. DEA Seoul works closely with Korean officials on cases like these. Both sides assist each other with documentation requirements associated with prosecuting narcotics cases.
Heroin for local use enters the ROK sporadically from China. Heroin from Thailand frequently transits Korea on its way to markets elsewhere. West African traffickers are a growing factor in heroin trafficking through Korea. Cocaine also transits Korea or is shipped to Korea for local use. Korean enforcement officers have had some recent successes against cocaine trafficking groups.
Internet research assisted by Christian Fitzpatrick and Eugene Young Lee