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Law and Custom in Korea
Comparative Legal History

$108.00 (C)

  • Date Published: August 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107006973

$ 108.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • This book sets forth the evolution of Korea's law and legal system from the Chosǒn dynasty through the colonial and postcolonial modern periods. This is the first book in English that comprehensively studies Korean legal history in comparison with European legal history, with particular emphasis on customary law. Korea's passage to Romano-German civil law under Japanese rule marked a drastic departure from its indigenous legal tradition. The transplantation of modern civil law in Korea was facilitated by Japanese colonial jurists who themselves created a Korean customary law; this constructed customary law served as an intermediary regime between tradition and the demands of modern law. The transformation of Korean law by the brisk forces of Westernization points to new interpretations of colonial history and it presents an intriguing case for investigating the spread of law on the global level. In-depth discussions of French customary law and Japanese legal history in this book provide a solid conceptual framework suitable for comparing European and East Asian legal traditions.

    • A comprehensive survey of Korean legal history, covering traditional law, colonial law and modern Korean law
    • The first book in English on Korean colonial law and jurisprudence
    • The first book that approaches Korean legal history from a comparative perspective, providing comparisons between East Asian legal history and European legal history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "At first look, the title of the book gives readers an expectation of continuity in theme evolving in Korean customary law from premodern times to the present. It is, however, a saga in which Kim tells us of how the civil law tradition in France and Germany was transplanted to Japan and only a few decades later to its colony Korea, as Japanese rulers and judges saw that it fit the needs of efficient colonial management and Western jurisprudence’s requirements of customary law. Kim’s book provides us with sad but rich stories to explore from Korean civil law history."
    Dai-Kwon Choi, Professor Emeritus, Seoul National University

    "For too long, East Asia in general and Korea in particular has been treated as a backwater in comparative legal studies. Marie Kim’s monumental contribution helps correct this state of affairs. With nuance and rigor, she uses the lens of custom to situate modern Korean law in a comparative context. A major advance not only for our understanding of modern Korea but also of colonial and postcolonial legality more broadly."
    Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, University of Chicago Law School

    "Law and Custom in Korea, by Marie Seong-Hak Kim, is a singular contribution to comparative law literature. No published scholarship on Korean law and the colonial period equals Professor Kim’s objective insight and the overall quality of her work. Law and Custom in Korea contributes importantly to the literature not only on law in colonial regimes generally but most significantly on the imposition and role of Western law in the most prominent non-Western colonial regime of the twentieth century."
    John O. Haley, Vanderbilt University, and William R. Orthwein Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus, Washington University in St Louis

    "I am delighted to recommend Marie Seong-Hak Kim's Law and Custom in Korea without reserve. It is the best law book I have read in several years. Not only is it beautifully written and a pleasure to read but Kim’s knowledge of other writings on comparative law is superb. The subject is fascinating: law that is primarily borrowed and custom that is local. So far as I know, this book has no equal in the literature on comparative law."
    Alan Watson, Distinguished Research Professor and Ernest P. Rogers Chair of Law, University of Georgia School of Law

    "In conclusion, although this book deals specifically with law and custom in Korea from a historical perspective, it is of general interest and should attract the attention of anyone who is interested in legal pluralism, law and society, legal culture and legal transplants, particularly in East Asia. The book cogently maintains that "reference to custom in the process of creating a unified legal system was a universal occurrence in history". It is for this reason that this book is a fascinating read, from a Chinese perspective, given the shared history and culture of Korea and China."
    Lei Chen, Comparative Legal History

    "Kim’s work is a superb and informative piece of scholarship that only could be completed by a scholar with the breadth of knowledge and understanding that she possesses. Though custom and law is a difficult subject matter, [she] does an excellent job of explaining complex legal terms and ideas in a comprehensible way and in dealing with a sensitive period of history, showing how the Japanese colonial period shaped Korean history without seeking to condone or exonerate imperialism … Those interested in Korean, Japanese, or comparative legal history would likely gain the most from Law and Custom in Korea, but I would also highly recommend it to anyone interested in Korean history from the Chosŏn Dynasty to the present, as Kim ably shows how the impact of the past is still felt keenly today."
    Franklin Rausch, Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies

    "The colonizer’s role still sparks heated debates in Korea, despite little attention to it abroad. Marie Seong-Hak Kim brings new attention to the issue with a spirited polemic about the origins of private or civil law in Korea under Japanese colonial rule (1910–45)."
    Dennis L. McNamara, American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107006973
    • length: 364 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 152 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.66kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Comparative reflections on the concepts of law and custom
    2. Law and legal culture under the Chosǒn Dynasty
    3. Custom and legal reception: the Japanese precedent
    4. Legal reforms in protectorate Korea, 1905–10
    5. Colonial law and the legal system, 1910–45
    6. Colonial jurisprudence and the construction of Korean customary law
    7. The 'Japanese deviation': comparison of colonial customary law policies
    8. Customary law in modern Korea
    9. Conclusion: Korean law and custom in comparative perspective.

  • Author

    Marie Seong-Hak Kim, St Cloud State University, Minnesota
    Marie Seong-Hak Kim was born in Seoul, Korea, and was educated at Ewha Womans University (BA and MA), the University of Minnesota (PhD) and the University of Minnesota Law School (JD). Originally trained as a sixteenth-century French historian, Professor Kim teaches and writes on both European and East Asian legal history, concentrating on France, Korea and Japan. Her book, Michel de L'Hôpital: The Vision of a Reformist Chancellor during the French Religious Wars, was published in 1997. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Law and History Review, The American Journal of Comparative Law, The Journal of Asian Studies, The Journal of Japanese Studies, Tijdschrift voor rechtsgeschiedenis, Tōyō Bunka Kenkyū and French History. Her major awards and grants include the National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship, Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant, the Academy of Korean Studies Research Grants and the Japan Foundation Research Fellowship. She served as a visiting professor at the Institut d'Asie Orientale at École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France, and was a fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden, The Netherlands. As a Fulbright Visiting Professor of Law, she taught at Handong Global University in Pohang, Korea. From 2011 to 2012, Professor Kim was a fellow at the Institut des Études Avancées (Collegium de Lyon) in France. She currently teaches at St Cloud State University. She is an attorney at law and a member of the Minnesota Bar.

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