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3 J. Korean L. 75 (2003)
Traditional Legal Thoughts in Korea

handle is hein.journals/jkorl3 and id is 85 raw text is: Journal of Korean Law, Vol. 3, No.1, 2003

Traditional Legal Thoughts in Korea
Chongko Choi *
In spite of the scarcity of research related to traditional Korean law, this article attempts to offer a
general overview of traditional Korean legal concepts for Western readers. It surveys the legal history of
Korea, from ancient times to the reception of Western law in the 19th Century. Due to Korea's
geographic location- between China and Japan-Korean law holds many similarities to that of East
Asian Common Law. However, Korea has continuously endeavoured to indigenize imported foreign
laws. The Tangun mythology offers the archetype of the Korean concept of law and justice. On the subject
of medieval legal concepts influenced by Buddhism, Wonhyo, Choe Chiwon and Chong Mongju are
mainly analysed. In regard to early modern legal concepts, the Neo-Confucianists Chong Tojon, Yi
Hwang (Toegye) are discussed. When discussing the legal concepts of the late modern period, the Sirhak
School, namely Yi I (Yulgok), Yi 1k (Songho), Chong Yakyong (Tasan) are analysed. Kang Hang, Yi
Chinyoung and Yi Maegye are included due to their contribution towards East Asian Common Law.
Each period had dominant morals and values that were enforced by the law. Whilst analysing the
dominant legal values during the different periods, the article tries to offer a philosophical foundation of
traditional Korean law and East Asian jurisprudence.
* Professor of Law, College of Law, Seoul National University; 1970 BA; 1972 LLM at Seoul National
University; 1979 Dr. Jur. at Freiburg University; 1987-88 Visiting Scholar at Berkeley and Harvard Law
Schools; 1996 Visiting Professor at Freiburg University; 1997 Visiting Professor at University of Hawaii; 2002
Distinguished Adjunct Professor at Santa Clara University Law School; Author of 20 books on Legal History,
Jurisprudence, especially on the History of East Asian Legal Thoughts.

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