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17 February 2013

BOOK: Kim on Law and Custom in Korea

A few days ago, the Legal History Blog noted that:

Cambridge University Press recently published Law and Custom in Korea: Comparative Legal History, by Marie Seong-Hak Kim (St. Cloud State University). A description from the Press:

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.

And a few blurbs:
"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 (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 (University of Chicago Law School)
Read on here.

Professor Kim is a member of the International Editorial Board of the ESCLH's Comparative Legal History.

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