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Development Overview
Government and Law Laws and Legislation

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Laws and Legislation

Legal administration 1

Legal Administration 1
 
First Republic[1]
 
The National Government Organization Act (NGOA), enacted simultaneously with the Constitution of 1948, included provisions on the organization of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and legal administration. The original NGOA designated that the MOJ have one office, four bureaus, and 21 divisions. The Office of Secretariat was divided into four divisions—accounting, personnel, finance, and supplies. The Legal Affairs Bureau was divided into the Legal Affairs Division, the Lawyers Division,[2] the Petition Division, and the Juvenile Division. The Prosecution Bureau was made up of the Forensic Division, the Examination Division, the Information Division, and the Investigation Division. The Information Division oversaw matters pertaining to information on crimes and the judicial protection of human rights. The investigation and forensic divisions were in charge of conducting science-based examinations into crimes. The Penal Bureau consisted of the welfare, education, protection, work, prison sentence, and auditing divisions. The Investigation Bureau was divided into the general, special, and legal literature divisions.

The organizational structure of the MOJ in 1948 was division based, with each division serving different functions. In particular there were divisions specializing in prosecutorial work, penal affairs, bar association monitoring, sentence execution, judicial appointments, juvenile offenders, ex-convict matters, and tasks of general administration involving family registers, registrations, appeals, legal procuration, petitions, and the like. Other divisions included those for researching and investigating judicial information, and for conducting background checks on lawyers and other employees working in prosecutors’ offices. The MOJ was additionally obligated to provide legal counsel to the President and Cabinet members. The MOJ, in other words, was originally charged with tasks pertaining not only to prosecution and the execution of sentences, but also to family register issues and legal procuration. The amendment of the NGOA in 1950, however, ridded the MOJ of the latter type of tasks.[3] The MOJ initially inherited intact much of its judicial administrative organization from the one instituted during the time of the U.S. military government, but without the benefit of careful and systematic inter-ministry coordination in advance. The absence of such coordination led to conflicts and overlapping jurisdictions, and to the establishment of an excessive number of organizations under a limited budget. The organizational reform of the MOJ in 1950 thus simplified its organization into three bureaus and 10 divisions, dividing the tasks of the Secretariat between the general accounting and secretariat divisions. The Investigation Bureau was also downsized into the Investigation Division, now reporting to the Legal Affairs Bureau. The Legal Affairs Bureau, for its part, was rid of the lawyers and juvenile divisions, but maintained the legal affairs, petition, and investigation divisions.[4]

The second constitutional amendment of 1954 abolished the position of the Prime Minister, and the amendment of the NGOA the following year also introduced major reforms into the organization of central administrative organizations. The Department of Legislation was renamed as the Office of Legislation and transferred to the MOJ where it was established as an independent organization with its own tasks.[5] The Office was in charge of drafting bills for legislation and decrees, reviewing proposals for enacting, amending, repealing, and newly interpreting legislation and decrees, reviewing and revising drafts for legislation, treaties, and presidential and Cabinet decrees, issuing opinions on various legislation upon request, and compiling laws, rules, and decrees.

The Prosecutor’s Office, originally created as an affiliated institution of the MOJ, also saw a major organizational reform when the Prosecutor’s Office Act was enacted in 1949, and came to include the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office, two high prosecutors’ offices, nine district prosecutors’ offices, and 33 branches of the District Prosecutor’s Office. As for the penal organization, 18 prisons and one branch of the interim government were inherited intact. Two more facilities were created, and the penal organization was reformed in March 1950, after the first republican government of Korea came into being, to account for the rising crime rate attributed to ongoing ideological conflicts and economic hardships.

 
[1] See the Ministry of Justice 1988 for most of the citations below.
[2] Tasks relating to lawyers were decided and administered according to the Attorneys Act promulgated in 1949. Before Korea gained liberation, the law dictated that even qualified members of the Joseon Lawyers Association obtain the Japanese Governor General’s approval before being allowed to practice as licensed attorneys. U.S .Military Government Ordinance No. 207, also known as the Attorneys Act, changed this requirement so that persons who met certain qualifications could register as licensed attorneys.
[3] The Act on the Service Regulations of the Ministry of Justice states, in Article 1, that the newly created MOJ inherit all tasks and duties overseen by the Director General of the Judicial Affairs Department at the time of the interim military government. The tasks of family registers, registrations, and legal procuration, however, were in the courts’ purview at the time. In order for the Minister of Justice to exercise his authority over these general legal tasks, the Court Organization Act needed to be amended. The government’s bill for the amended Court Organization Act in 1949, which sought to transfer registration and other such tasks to the MOJ, ran into severe objections from the Supreme Court and the National Assembly. These tasks were thus excluded from the purview of the MOJ during the organizational reform of March 1950.
[4] Addressing the need for an organization specializing in juvenile protection and administration, the Juvenile Division was resurrected in 1954. The Petition Division was renamed as the Litigation Affairs Division and saw its tasks and duties similarly changed in 1955.
[5] The Office of Legislation had two bureaus, with the General Accounting Division placed under Division 1.


Source: Korea Institute of Public Administration. 2008. Korean Public Administration, 1948-2008, Edited by Korea Institute of Public Administration. Pajubookcity: Bobmunsa.