The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.
(Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, 1845)
It can never be the task of an empirical science to provide binding norms and ideals from which directives for immediate practical activity can be derived.
(Max Weber, Objectivity of Social Science and Social Policy, 1904)
This paper traces the development of law and society studies in South Korea, elucidates the political implications of the academic practices of law and society scholars, and identifies the forms of their political engagement. It canvasses the situation of law and society studies in the pre- and post-Liberation periods and analyzes the changes that have occurred since law and society came to be studied and taught in universities. The paper shows how the early generations of scholarship were sidestepped in the 1980s by the so-called “third-generation legal scholarship” and delineates the counter-hegemonic movement launched by the new generation of scholars. It throws light on the empowerment of critical law and society scholars in the post-democratization phases of the 1990s and 2000s, when many of those scholars actively participated in policy-making and civil advocacy, and discusses the tensions in those developments.