Washington International Law Journal


Chan Jin Kim


Transformation is the key word to explain the Korean attitudes towards law. In the early 1950's, nation building gave impetus to economic growth and allowed Korea to quickly pass through the preliminary stages of development. Industrialization, urbanization and eventual emigration of the populace have, in many senses, displaced the traditional social value system based on Confucianism. However, a new value system has yet to take hold. The lack of such guidelines has left Koreans in a state of confusion in a world that continues to change. The Korean Constitution clearly mandates equal protection under the laws for all Koreans. However, such concepts as fundamental rights, human dignity, sovereign power, or election of officers were only introduced after 1948. As a result, Korean attitudes toward law have failed to keep pace with economic development. While attitudes are shifting, a lack of respect for the law is still a challenge that must be overcome before Korea joins the ranks of a truly industrialized nation.

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