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Australian Journal of Asian Law

Abstract from Volume 10 No 2 (2008)

The Newly Introduced Criminal Jury Trial in Korea: A Historic Step Toward 'Criminal Justice by the People'

Kuk Cho is Professor of Law, Seoul National University College of Law and Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. He received an LLB in 1986 and an LLM in 1989 from Seoul National University College of Law; an LLM in 1995 and a JSD in 1997 from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law; was a Visiting Scholar, University of Leeds Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, UK (1998); a Visiting Research Fellow; University of Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, UK (1998), and a Visiting Scholar, Harvard-Yenching Institute (2005-06). The names of the Korean authors who have published in English are given as they are in their publications. This article benefits from financial support by the Law Research Institute, Seoul National University.

Until the National Assembly passed the Lay Participation in Criminal Trials Law in June 2007, Korean citizens had never participated in trials. Koreans are now taking part in criminal justice as active deciders, not as passive beneficiaries or onlookers. The introduction of jury trials is thus a drastic change for Korean criminal justice. It was a result of both the rapid growth of political democracy and widespread doubts about the integrity of the judiciary. It was also a part of an ongoing international trend to introduce or resurrect jury trials after the collapse of authoritarian regimes. The newly introduced jury trial in Korea will certainly change the fundamentals of criminal trials, modifying the role of the judge, trial strategies and evidentiary rules. The Korean jury trial system, however, differs from other legal systems regarding the scope of crimes eligible for jury trial, the method and process of reaching a verdict, and the effect of jury opinions on the ultimate verdict.

(2008) 10(2) Asian Law 268

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