The Spirit of Korean Law: Korean Legal History in Context


24-25 April 2014

Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea


Organized by:

The Korean Society of Legal History AND The Korean Law and History Laboratory (KORLAH), Institut d’Asie Orientale, France


With supports from:

Korean Studies Promotion Services, Academy of Korean Studies, Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon, France,The Law Research Institute, Seoul National University, Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies, Seoul National University



This international conference focuses the historical development of Korea’s law and legal system from the Chosŏn Dynasty through the colonial and modern periods. Its main goal is to investigate the identity of Korean law and its evolution in the context of interactions with laws from outside. In April 2013, the first conference on Korean legal history in Europe was held in Lyon, France, under the title “The Spirit of Korean Law.” We aim to continue its momentum and pursue our objectives of promoting research of Korean legal history from comparative perspective.

Korean law cannot be understood independently of its relationship with foreign laws, such as Chinese law during the dynastic period, Japanese law during the colonial period, and European and American laws during the contemporary period. At the same time, a true understanding of Korean law can proceed only from taking into account the original contributions from Korean lawmakers, jurists, and judges. The major themes of this conference include: (1) the influence of Confucianism on Korean law; (2) the rise of nationalistic law in colonial Korea; and (3) the impact of tradition on modern law and the Constitution. Chosŏn Korea was a model Confucian state: its legal norms faithfully reflected the prevailing neo-Confucian ideology and precepts. During the colonial period, as the Japanese tried to transplant their modernized civil law system in the colony, one of the key issues they faced was how to reconcile the deep-rooted Confucian traditions of Korea with the newly imported European legal concepts and principles. Swift legal changes imposed under colonial rule naturally gave rise to a new consciousness of “our Korean law” among Korean jurists and intellectuals. After Korea’s independence in 1945, the issues of Confucianism and colonialism in Korean law became enmeshed this time with the new question of constitutionalism, as Korea came under strong influence from American law. Judicial process in modern Korea has grappled with negotiating between the identity of Korean law and legal culture with the principles of constitutional rights and liberties.

We hope the presentations in this conference will shed light on the important question of how to define the “truly Korean” law, presenting original theses and insight on distinctly defined aspects in the development of Korean law in history.



Wednesday 23 April 2014

19:00    Welcoming Dinner (Hoam Faculty House, 1st Floor Pine Room)


Thursday 24 April 2014


09:30-10:00 - Registration

10:00-10:10 - Opening Ceremony

10:10-10:40 - Key Note Speech

  • Kyong-Whan Ahn (Emeritus Professor, SNU, Korea)                                                                                                                                 Law in the History of Korea: Pride and Prejudice                                                                                                                                               

10:50-12:30 - Session 1: Chosŏn                    Chair: Anders Karlsson

  • Kiwon Hong (Lecturer, SNU, Korea)
    Philosophical Foundations of Lenient Criminal Policy in Late 15th-Century Chosŏn
  • Frédéric Constant (Professor, Université de Paris X Nanterre)                                                                                                         Circulation of a Common Legal Knowledge in East Asia

12:45-14:15 - Lunch, Kyujanggak Tour


14:30-17:30 - Session 2: Chosŏn                    Chair: Kiwon Hong

  • Pierre-Emmanuel Roux (Research Fellow, Ruhr University, Germany)                                                                                        The Chosŏn Law Codes in an East Asian Perspective
  • Huigi Sim (Professor, Yonsei University, Korea)                                                                                                                                   Popular Practices of Conditional Sales of Land in 18th-19th C. Chosŏn: Customs or Custom?
  • Anders Karlsson (Professor, SOAS, University of London, UK)                                                                                                     Confucian Ideology, Law and Historical Change in Chosŏn Korea

18:00-20:00 - Dinner


Friday 25 April 2014


09:30-12:00  - Session 3: Colonial Korea                    Chair: Marie S. Kim

  • Norikatsu Sasagawa (Emeritus Professor, Meiji University, Japan)                                                                                               The History and Constitutional Thought of 民国 (Republic) Related to the Theory of the State of Cicero and the March First Independence Movement of 1919
  • Noriko Kokubun (Professor, Nagoya University, Japan)                                                                                Korean Constitutional Thought before and during the Colonial Period: From the Viewpoint of Comparison of the Countries in East Asia
  • Samuel Guex (Professor, Université de Genève, Switzerland)                                                                                                       Ch'angssi-kaemyông: Assimilation, Cultural Annihilation, or Simple Household Registry Reform?


12:00-14:00 - Lunch, University Museum Tour 


14:20-15:20 - Session 4: Modern Korea                    Chair: Huigi Sim

  • Tae-Ung Baik (Professor, University of Hawaii, USA)                                                                                                                           The Development of Criminal Procedure in North Korea
  • Ji-bong Lim (Professor, Sogang University, Korea)                                                                                                                                   The Constitutional Court and Constitutionalism in Korea

15:20-15:40 - Coffee Break


15:40-17:00 - Session 5: Modern Korea                    Chair: Ji-bong Lim

  • Marie S. Kim (Netherlands Inst. for Advanced Study / Professor, St. Cloud State University, USA)                     Confucian Confusion: Korean Constitutional Jurisprudence on Filial Piety
  • Jong-Hyeok Lee (Ph. D. Student, SNU, Korea)
    Taking Foreigners Seriously: The Legal Status of Foreigners in Korean History


17:00-18:30 - Session 6: Roundtable                        Chair: Byongjo Choi & M. S. Kim

             All Participants

19:00-21:00 - Farewell Dinner



Last update on Sunday 18 January 2015 (16:15) by  Pierre-Emmanuel Roux

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