Ask Korea Law

Published by Chung & Partners Since 2008


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How to Resolve a Criminal Case Pending in Korea While Residing Abroad

We are taking about a situation where a foreigner is accused of any crime in Korea but he has already left Korea for any reason.  Some might come back to Korea to defend himself or some might just ignore it.  However, just ignoring can’t free you from the potential legal risk.  You won’t be allowed to enter into Korea and could be arrested at the border.  Recently, Korean Police is very active in requesting the INTERPOL to issue a red notice in order to have law enforcement worldwide locate and provisionally arrest the suspect.

Then can a foreign suspect resolve a pending criminal case while staying abroad?  The answer is yes, but in a very exceptional case.  The Korean prosecutors are having a strict position that all suspects must appear at the face-to-face interrogation with the investigating authority.  If the suspect refuses to do so or the Korean prosecutor can’t locate the suspect, the prosecutor suspends the investigation and asks the court to issue an arrest warrant.  This warrant is noticed to the Korean immigration office.  As a result, the suspect could be arrested when s/he passes the Korean border.  Being abroad are usually insufficient as a just excuse.

There are, however, certain exceptions where the criminal case can be resolved without the suspect’s personal appearance: Continue reading


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[Q&A] Criminal Charge and Its Legal Implications in Exit Order, Entry Ban and Visa Refusal in Korea

Q) This past weekend I was involved in some altercation with a Korean guy at the local bar.  I pushed him slightly, but he fell down and broke his wrist.  He phoned a police officer and filed a criminal accusation against me.  I am an E-2 visa holder.  What can I do now to help myself?

A) If you are a first offender and had no other criminal record, I don’t think this case becomes a serious one.  However, as you are a foreigner, any conviction could lead to an exit order and an entry ban decision from the Korean immigration office.  Under the current rule, if a foreigner is fined more than 5,000,000KRW for any crime in Korea, the immigration office can issue an exit order and a future visa application and extension could be denied.  It can also result in an entry ban.  Under the rule, the duration of entry ban is as follows:

  • total amount of fine for the last 1 year exceeds 5,000,000KRW: 1 year
  • committed any crime more than 2 times for the last 1 year: 1 year
  • the amount of fine is between Continue reading


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How to Cope with the Korean Police’s Summon for Criminal Investigation

Can Korean Police Issue a Summon Even When the Suspect Resides Abroad?

For a starter, there may be a question about whether the Korean police can summon a foreigner who resides abroad.  The answer is yes. The Korean criminal law applies to those who have committed crimes within Korea and then gone abroad, as well as those who have committed crimes against Koreans while staying outside of Korea.  Thus, a foreign resident could be sued and accused by the Korean police, and in such case, the Korean police moves to demand the foreign suspect to attend the investigation in Korea.  Recently, our office sees many cases where a foreign resident employee of a foreign company is called in by the Korean police in relation with its Korean subsidiary’s business.

Do I have to comply with the summon?

Since a foreign country is not within the domain of Korea’s criminal jurisdiction, it is not mandatory for the foreign resident suspect to comply with the summon.  However, if the foreign resident suspect refuses to comply with, the Korean law enforcement authority can get an arrest warranty, which could put the suspect at risk of being arrested upon entering Korea. Continue reading


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Rights of a Criminal Suspect during the Korean Investigation Procedures – Self-Advocacy Note Presented by the Seoul Bar Association

Seoul Bar AssociationThe Seoul Bar Association has recently issued a Self-Advocacy Note for the use of any criminal suspect under the Korean investigative procedures.  Before this being issued, the National Human Rights Commissions had recommended the police and the prosecutors to guarantee the criminal suspects’ right to take notes.  Although this may sound weird to some from other countries, the Korean police and prosecutors have been prohibiting the suspects from taking their own notes during the interrogation.

 

This Self-Advocy note is prepared in order to help any suspect inducing a foreign suspect to fully understand and examine his/her statutory rights to self-advocacy before and during the investigative procedures. You can download it at the homepage of the Seoul Bar association or by clicking here.

This also contains a good explanation of the overall investigative procedures under Korean law.  Below is quoted from the English version of Self-Advocacy Note which explains about the Criminal Investigative Procedures in Korea.  It should be greatly appreciated that Continue reading


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[Q&A] Getting a Korean Criminal Investigation Records Check Reply While Staying Abroad

Q) I want to know how to get a Korean Criminal Investigation Records Check Reply. For my immigration application purpose, I need to submit this to the Canadian authority (CIC Canada). They said this document must include the “lapsed records”, i.e. all the criminal records database search. I contacted the Korean embassy in Toronto and they only issue normal Police Record which is not accepted by the CIC. They told me I had to get it from the local police station in South Korea.  However, it is not feasible for me to visit Korea just in order to get this document. I’m wondering whether your law firm deals with this type of case. If so, I would like to know the details of the process.

A) Yes, we’ve been dealing with this kind of case quite often.  The Canadian immigration office is requesting a Police Certificate. The official title of this document in Korea is a Korean Criminal Investigation Records Check Reply(범죄수사경력회보서). There are many people wondering how to get this Korean criminal background check and it also seems that there is conflicting information about this.

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Attorney Wonil Chung Successfully Obtained a Supreme Court’s Ruling in a High-Profile Overture Sponsored Links Case Reinforcing Unrestricted Access to Internet Network

그림 2In April 2013, attorney Mr. Wonil Chung successfully obtained a Supreme Court’s ruling which overturned lower court’s decision in connection with the sponsored links, Internet keyword advertising services, operated by Overture Services Inc., a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of Yahoo! Inc.  Before this ruling from the Supreme Court of South Korea, there had been an increased controversy over whether Overture system user’s deployment of an automated program to access to the sponsored links could fall into a crime causing a harm to the Internet network system.  In this case, attorney Mr. Chung argued before the Supreme Court of South Korea that it cannot constitute a statutory crime, otherwise the result would be an over-reaching of Korean criminal statute and cause an excessive chilling effect on the free access to the Internet.  Responding to Mr. Chung’s arguments, the Supreme Court of South Korea held that it does not constitute a statutory crime of interference with stable operation of the Internet network.  With its ruling, the Court struck down the prosecutor’s attempt of excessive criminalization and reinforced online service user’s right of free and unrestricted access to the Continue reading


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Google Raided By South Korea Police In Street View Probe

South Korean police raided Google’s Seoul office on August 2 on suspicion that Google’s Seoul office has illegally gathered personal information for its street mapping service.  The Korean police is investigating whether Google has violated “Protection of Communications Secrets Act”(PCSA) or “Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection”.

For example, according to the PCSA, no person shall censor any mail, wiretap any telecommunications, provide the communication confirmation data, record or listen to conversations between others that are not made public.  It is reported that Continue reading


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[Q&A] Employee’s Act of Adultery and Its Legal Implication to the Employer under Korean Law

We’ve been asked about a criminal charge against an adultery under Korean criminal law quite often.  Foreign employees in Korean should be cautious that adultery is a crime under Korean law.  Here is a real example of such a case where a foreign officer committed an adultery and the company(employer)’s legal concern made them ask for some legal consultation to our law firm regarding the adultery law and criminal law process in Korea.

Q) Mr. XX, who is a head director of our company, committed an adultery and was charged by the Korean prosecutor.  He has confessed his guilty and the prosecutor demanded one year’s imprisonment for his crime to the court.  If the court finalizes that Mr. XX is guilty, does that mean Mr. XX will be imprisonment for one year or lesser?

A) Finding guilty does not always mean Mr. XX will be imprisoned.  The Court may SUSPEND the imprisonment for certain years even though Mr. XX is guilty.  The Korean Criminal Act provides that a married person who commits adultery shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years.  However, the Act also provides the execution of the sentence for an adultery can be Continue reading


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Two Korean Internet Portal Giants Prosecuted for Aiding Copyright Infringement

naverLast December 23, the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office prosecuted NHN corporation, the operator of Naver (the largest Internet portal in Korea) and Daum Communications Co., the operatot of Daum for copyright infringement.

The prosecutors said two Internet portals have been aiding copyright infringement of their users by ignoring copyright holders(The Korea Music Copyright Association and the Korea Association of Phonogram Producers) request for removing illegal music files on their sites and taking no actions.  The prosecutors found 10 millions of uploaded music files Continue reading


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Chung & Partners Succesfully Defended its Client in a High Profile Criminal Case

Last September, Supreme Porsecutors Office(SPO) investigated the ex-head of Military Mutual Aid Association(MMAA) and his son as they had received 30,000 stocks of Kenertec, a Korean Energy company, from its representative in response to securing investments from the MMAA.

Mr. Wonil Chung, a partner of Chung & Partners, represented the son and succeeded in making the SPO drop the charge and not prosecuting him.

Afterward, the SPO prosecuted only the ex-head of MMAA to the court, but last Friday, Seoul Central District Court sentenced not guilty stating there is no evidence that supports there had happened any illegal activities.

Under Korean Criminal Law, a person who, administering other’s business, receives property or obtains advantage from a 3rd party in response to an illegal solicitation concerning his duty, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 5 yeard or by a fine not exceeding 10 million won.

Established in 1984 as a special organization under the Ministry of National Defense, the MMAA administers assistance for military personnel and veterans. It has 160,000 members and its assets are valued at 7.8 trillion won ($5.94 billion).  The organization has seven businesses and recorded a total profit of 153.7 billion won last year.

This case had drawn big attentions within Korean society because of the MMAA’s powerful position in Korea’s financing & investment market and new government and SPO’s attempt to scrape out public enterprises’ corruption.  But at least in this case, Continue reading