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

Kuk Cho
December 2008
Australian Journal of Asian Law (Federation Press Pty Limited);Dec2008, Vol. 10 Issue 2, p268
Academic Journal
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.


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