Death Penalty Database

South Korea

Information current as of: October 11, 2013

General

Official Country Name

Republic of Korea (South Korea). [1]

Geographical Region

Asia (Eastern Asia). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto. The last execution was carried out in 1997. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging.
Executions of prisoners convicted of non-military offenses are carried out by hanging. [4]

Shooting.
Executions of prisoners convicted of military offenses are carried out by firing squad. [5]

References

[1] BBC, Country Profiles: South Korea Profile, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15291408, May 23, 2013.
[2] U.N., Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, Feb. 11, 2013.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Amnesty International Report 2013: The State of the World’s Human Rights, p. 152, POL 10/001/2013, 2013.
[4] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 66, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[5] South Korea Military Penal Code, art. 3, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.

Country Details

Language(s)

Korean. [1]

Population

48,600,000. [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

62.

At least 61 people were believed to be on death row at the end of 2014, [3] and we know of one new death sentence so far in 2015. [4]

The courts have handed down few death sentences in recent years: 2 new death sentences were reported in 2013 and 1 in 2014. [5]

(This question was updated on November 9, 2015.)

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2017 to date (last updated on December 6, 2017)

0. [6]

Executions in 2016

0. [7]

Per capita execution rate in 2016

Executions in 2015

0. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

0 executions.

Executions in 2014

0. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2014

0 executions

Executions in 2013

0. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions

Executions in 2012

0. [11]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

0. [12]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

0. [13]

Executions in 2009

0. [14]

Executions in 2008

0. [15]

Executions in 2007

0. [16]

Year of Last Known Execution

1997. [17]

The last executions took place on December 30, 1997, when 18 men and five women were hanged in prisons all over the country. [18] Executions took place without prior warning to the prisoners and their families. [19] They were the first executions since November 1995, when 19 prisoners were executed. [20]

References

[1] BBC, Country Profiles: South Korea Profile, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15291408, May 23, 2013.
[2] BBC, Country Profiles: South Korea Profile, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15291408, May 23, 2013.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[4] BBC News, South Korea soldier gets death sentence for troop killings, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-31107215, Feb. 3, 2015.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[6] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[7] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[8] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Executions and Death Sentences in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions 2012, p. 18, ACT 50/001/2013, Apr. 10, 2013.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions 2011, p. 18, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions 2010, p. 18, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Amnesty International Report 2013: The State of the World’s Human Rights, p. 152, POL 10/001/2013, May 23, 2013.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty News March 1998, South Korea Executes 23, ACT 53/002/1998, Mar. 26, 1998.
[19] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty News March 1998, South Korea Executes 23, ACT 53/002/1998, Mar. 26, 1998.
[20] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty News March 1998, South Korea Executes 23, ACT 53/002/1998, Mar. 26, 1998.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Certain murders committed together with another serious offense are punishable by death. A person who murders after committing or attempting rape is punishable by death. [1] Intentional murder during robbery is also punishable by death. [2] Moreover, murder of another person to avenge a criminal charge, accusatory testimony, or presentation of criminal evidence is also punishable by death. [3] In the military context, a soldier who murders a superior or a fellow soldier is subject to the death penalty. [4]

Murder.
A person who kills another is punishable by death. [5]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
The following offenses are punishable by death when they result in death, regardless of intent: arson (setting fire to buildings, automobiles, ships or aircraft); [6] piracy (forcibly seizing a ship or taking another’s property after intruding on a ship through the threat of collective force); [7] rape of a physically or mentally disabled person or a child below the age of 13; [8] causing the death of a minor after an abduction; [9] and killing another for the purpose of usurping the national territory or subverting the Constitution. [10] Fatal hit-and-run offenses are also death-eligible (running away after causing a victim to die by hitting the victim with a vehicle or causing the victim to die by running away) [11]

Certain military offenses resulting in death are also subject to the death penalty: a soldier who causes the death of a person by plundering [12] or who causes the death of a superior or a fellow soldier by assault is punishable by death. [13]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
A person who takes a hostage for forced labor or to coerce a third party and who murders that hostage is punishable by death. [14]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
A person who injures a person or damages property or disturbs the public peace by using explosives is punishable by death. [15]

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
Various forms of repeat robbery are punishable by death. A person who habitually commits robbery or coerces a third party to commit robbery is punishable by death. [16] A repeat offense of violent robbery (defined as a second violent robbery causing injury to another, committed within 3 years of the end of the sentence for the prior robbery) is also punishable by death. [17]

Rape Not Resulting in Death.
Various forms of aggravated rape are punishable by death. Rape committed in the course of a robbery is punishable by death if it is a repeat offense (committed within three years of the end of the sentence for the prior rape and robbery); [18] or if it is committed during an armed, violent or group break-in (breaking or attempting to break into someone’s home, building, ship, or aircraft at night and using violence or threat for financial or property gain, or doing so with a weapon or at least one other person). [19] A similar law applies to piracy: committing rape after forcibly seizing a ship or intruding upon a ship is punishable by death. [20]

A soldier who commits rape on a battlefield or in an occupied territory is punishable by death. [21]

Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death.
Where a person kidnaps a minor by force or trickery with the intention of killing the minor, that person is punishable by death whether or not death ensues. [22] A person who habitually commits the crime of kidnapping or holding another hostage for financial or property gain, or who habitually coerces a third party to do so, is punishable by death. [23]

Economic Crimes Not Resulting in Death.
A person who counterfeits money or bank notes for use is punishable by death. [24]

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death.
Those who habitually, or for the purpose of business, import, export, produce or sell narcotics are subject to the death penalty. [25]

Treason.
The ringleader or those who participate in, command or engage in the essential activities of a treasonous plot are punishable by death, but people who merely respond and follow the lead are not subject to death penalty. [26] Death-eligible treasonous offenses include conspiring with a foreign country and causing foreign hostility towards South Korea or taking up resistance against South Korea; [27] forming an alliance with an enemy country against South Korea or enlisting soldiers for an enemy country; [28] and supplying an enemy country with a military ship, aircraft, or other facilities or destroying military facilities for an enemy country. [29] The death penalty can also be applied to anti-state activity such as organizing anti-state groups or revealing a national security secret under the National Security Law. [30] A person who kills another for the purpose of usurping the national territory or subverting the Constitution is punishable by death. [31]

Espionage.
A person who acts as a spy for an enemy country, or aids or abets a spy of an enemy country, is punishable by death. [32] Informing the enemy, helping the enemy or acting for the benefit of the enemy is also punishable by death. [33] Revealing national security secrets is punishable by under the National Security Law. [34]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Abusing military power, [35] surrendering and dereliction of duty, [36] escaping the base during a battle with an enemy or during war, [37] escaping the base with the purpose of avoiding military service or escaping to the enemy’s base, [38] false military conduct (giving false military signals or orders, hurting oneself with the intention of avoiding military duty, or distributing foods with toxic substance), [39] disobeying military orders, [40] assaulting superiors or soldiers during a battle with an enemy, [41] injuring superiors or soldiers with a deadly weapon while in a battle with an enemy, [42] arson [43] and destruction of military properties [44] are all punishable by death.

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Piracy: a person who habitually commits the act of piracy is punishable by death. [45]

Comments.
The 1995 revision to the 1950 Criminal Code significantly reduced the number of death eligible crimes. Yet in 2009, there were still 15 death penalty provisions in the Criminal Code and 98 death penalty provisions in 20 other laws, for a total of 113 death penalty provisions in 21 laws. The total number of capital offenses was about 160. [46] This number was further reduced when the Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes was amended in April 2013 to abrogate conspiracy to commit gang robbery from the list of death-eligible offenses. [47] Aside from the Criminal Act, legislation containing death-eligible offenses includes the Military Act, the Special Act on the Punishment of Sexual Crimes, the National Security Law, the Narcotics Act, and other legislation. [48]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

No. Although death penalty provisions in the Criminal Act and the Military Penal Code sometimes use mandatory language, article 53 of the Criminal Act allows courts to consider extenuating circumstances to mitigate punishments [49] and article 379 of the Military Court Act also allows the mitigation of punishment. [50]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

None, there is no mandatory death penalty (see answer above on the mandatory death penalty).

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

None, there have been no executions since 1997. [51]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
South Korea is a party to the ICCPR and has not made any reservations to article 6(5). [52] South Korea is also a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and has not made any reservations to article 37. [53] Those provisions of the ICCPR and the CRC prohibit the execution of individuals below the age of 18 at the time of a crime. Under South Korea’s Constitution, these properly ratified treaties have the effect of law. [54] In conformity with these international obligations, the South Korea Juvenile Act states that death sentences or life imprisonment for individuals below the age of 18 at the time of offense shall be commuted to fifteen years of imprisonment. [55]

Pregnant Women.
The sentence of death is not carried out on pregnant women, but execution is only suspended for pregnant women under the Criminal Procedure Act of South Korea. [56] The Minister of Justice will order a “stay” on the execution and the execution will be carried out after childbirth. [57] This conforms with South Korea’s obligations as a party to the ICCPR. South Korea has not made any reservations to article 6(5), which prohibits the execution of pregnant women. [58] Women with small children can be executed. The laws of Korea specify no minimum period before a woman who has given birth may be executed. [59]

Mentally Ill.
A defendant with severe mental illness that prevents object recognition or decision-making is not subject to punishment. [60] Sentence is reduced for a defendant whose state of “unsound mind” only allows feeble object recognition or decision-making. [61] In the case when a defendant is in a state of “unsound mind”, the execution is carried out after the recovery from the state of “unsound mind.” [62]

References

[1] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 301-2, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[2] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 338, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[3] South Korea Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-9(1), Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[4] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 53(1), 59(1), Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[5] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 250(1), Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[6] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 164(2), Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[7] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 340(3), Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[8] South Korea Special Act on the Punishment of Sexual Crimes, art. 9(3), Law No. 10258, Apr. 15, 2010, last amended by Law No. 11729 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[9] South Korea Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-2 (2), Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[10] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 88, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[11] South Korea Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-3(2), Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[12] South Korea Military Penal Code, art. 83(1), Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[13] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 52(1), 52-6, 58(1), 58-6, 60-5, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[14] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 324-4, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[15] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 119, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[16] South Korea Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-4(3), Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013; South Korea Criminal Act, arts. 333, 334, 336, 340(1), Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[17] South Korea Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-5, Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[18] South Korea Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-5, Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[19] South Korea Special Act on the Punishment of Sexual Crimes, art. 3(2), Law No. 10258, Apr. 15, 2010, last amended by Law No. 11729 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[20] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 340(3), Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[21] South Korea Military Penal Code, art. 84(1), Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[22] South Korea Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-2(1)(2), Law No. 1744, Feb 23. 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[23] South Korea Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-4(3), Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013; South Korea Criminal Act, art. 336, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[24] South Korea Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 10, Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[25] South Korea Narcotics Act, art. 58(2), Law No. 6146, Jan. 12, 2000, last amended by Law No. 11984 of Jul. 30, 2013.
[26] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 87, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[27] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 92, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[28] South Korea Criminal Act, arts. 93, 94(1), Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[29] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 95, 96, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[30] South Korea National Security Law, arts. 3(1), 4(1), 6(2), 13, Law No. 3318, Dec. 31, 1980, last amended by Law No. 11042 of Sep. 15, 2011.
[31] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 88, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[32] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 98, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013. South Korea Military Penal Code, art. 13(1), Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[33] South Korea Military Penal Code, art. 14, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[34] South Korea National Security Law, art. 4(1), Law No. 3318, Dec. 31, 1980, last amended by Law No. 11042 of Sep. 15, 2011.
[35] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 18,19, 20, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[36] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 22, 23, 24, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[37] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 27, 28, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[38] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 30, 33, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[39] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[40] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 44, 45, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[41] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts 50, 56, 60, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[42] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 52-4, 52-5, 58-4, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[43] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 66, 67, Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[44] South Korea Military Penal Code, arts. 71, 75(1), Law No. 1003, Jan. 20, 1962, last amended by Law No. 11734 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[45] South Korea Act on Aggravated Punishment etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-4(3), Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[46] David Johnson & Franklin Zimring, The Next Frontier, p. 163, Oxford University Press, 2009, citing to Cho, Byung Sun. 2008. “South Korea’s Changing Capital Punishment Policy: The Road from De Facto to Formal Abolition.” Punishment and Society 10:171-205; Cho Kuk “Death Penalty in Korea: From Unofficial Moratorium to Abolition?” Asian Journal of Comparative Law 3(1), 2008.
[47] South Korea Act on Aggravated Punishment etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-8, Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[48] South Korea Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 1, Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013. South Korea Special Act on the Punishment of Sexual Crimes, Law No. 10258, Apr. 15, 2010, last amended by Law No. 11729 of Apr. 5, 2013; South Korea National Security Law, arts. 3, 4, 6, 13, Law No. 3318, Dec. 31, 1980, last amended by Law No. 11042 of Sep. 15, 2011. South Korea Narcotics Act, art. 58(2), Law No. 6146, Jan. 12, 2000, last amended by Law No. 11984 of Jul. 30, 2013.
[49] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 53, Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[50] South Korea Military Court Act, art. 379(1), Law No. 3993, Dec. 4, 1987, last amended by Law No. 11572 of Dec. 18, 2012.
[51] Amnesty Intl., Amnesty International Report 2013: The State of the World’s Human Rights, p. 152, POL 10/001/2013, May 23, 2013.
[52] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 28, 2013.
[53] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/MTDSG/Volume%20I/Chapter%20IV/IV-11.en.pdf, last accessed Aug. 28, 2013.
[54] Constitution of the Republic of Korea, art. 6, Law No. 10, Oct. 29, 1987.
[55] South Korea Juvenile Act, art. 59, Law No. 4057, Dec. 31, 1988, last amended by 11005 of Aug. 4, 2011.
[56] South Korea Criminal Procedure Act, art. 469, Law No. 341, Sep. 23, 1954, last amended by Law No. 11572 of Dec. 18, 2012.
[57] South Korea Criminal Procedure Act, art. 469, Law No. 341, Sep. 23, 1954, last amended by Law No. 11572 of Dec. 18, 2012.
[58] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 28, 2013.
[59] Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, p. 195, Oxford University Press, 2008.
[60] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 10(1), Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[61] South Korea Criminal Act, art. 10(2), Law No. 293, Sep. 18, 1953, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[62] South Korea Criminal Procedure Act, art. 469, Law No. 341, Sep. 23, 1954, last amended by Law No. 11572 of Dec. 18, 2012.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

April 10, 1990. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

Yes. [4]

Date of Accession

April 10, 1990. [5]

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [7]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [8]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [9]

Vote

Abstained. [10]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [11]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [12]

Vote

Abstained. [13]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [14]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [15]

Vote

Abstained. [16]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [17]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [18]

Vote

Abstained. [19]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [20]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [21]

Vote

Abstained. [22]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [23]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [24]

Vote

Abstained. [25]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [26]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 27, 2013.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 27, 2013.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 27, 2013.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 27, 2013.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 27, 2013.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 27, 2013.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 27, 2013.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 27, 2013..
[9] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[10] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[11] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Note Verbale dated 7 September 2017, U.N. Doc. A/71/1047, Sep. 13, 2017.
[12] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[13] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[14] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[15] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2 (Part II), Dec. 8, 2012.
[16] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[17] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[18] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2 (Part II), Dec. 8, 2010.
[19] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[20] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[21] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[22] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[23] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[24] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[25] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[26] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Article 34 of the constitution states that all citizens are entitled to a life worthy of human beings. [1] The constitution makes no exception whereby the State may deprive an individual of the right to life.

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Article 6 of the Constitution provides that “Treaties duly concluded and promulgated under the Constitution and the generally recognized rules of international law shall have the same effect as the domestic laws of the Republic of Korea.” [2]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

South Korea is classified as a de facto abolitionist country as it has not executed any person since 1997. However, conflicting views on capital punishment at the national level make it difficult to assess whether South Korea is moving towards or away from abolition.

Recent changes to death-eligible offenses are a case in point. In 2005 and 2010 South Korea passed legislation providing for aggravated punishments for sex crimes and other crimes, increasing the number of crimes for which the death penalty can be awarded. [3] On the other hand, several formerly death-eligible offenses have been removed or struck down in recent years. In 2003, a Constitutional Court ruling had the effect of striking down capital punishment as the penalty for aggravated narcotics offenses. [4] In 2013, the offense of forming a group with the intent to steal was removed from South Korea’s death-eligible crimes. [5]

South Korea’s official position on the death penalty before international fora has been similarly ambiguous. South Korea has repeatedly abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly’s Moratorium Resolution, although it has never signed the Note Verbale of dissociation. At its last Universal Periodic Review in 2012, South Korea expressed its willingness to consider ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. [6] However, the government delegation also declined to outright accept the recommendation to abolish the death penalty, stating instead that abolition required careful review and consideration of factors such as public opinion, legal perception, social realities, and criminal policy. [7]

Nevertheless, there have been repeated efforts in recent years —both by the executive and Congress—to abolish the death penalty. On April 6, 2005, South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission recommended that capital punishment be abolished. [8] Since 1999, lawmakers have proposed three bills substituting life imprisonment without parole for the death penalty, but the proposal has failed to move forward each time. [9] A constitutional challenge to capital punishment was also made by a death row inmate, but the Constitutional Court upheld its legality in 2010. [10]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No, but there has been a de facto moratorium since February 1998, when President Kim Dae-jung took office. [11] President Kim was a former death row inmate and hence an opponent of the death penalty. [12] However, current President Park Geun-hye publicly supported capital punishment in September 2012 as a presidential candidate five months prior to taking office. [13]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

Several recent decisions have restricted the scope of application of the death penalty. In 2002, the Constitutional Court struck down one part of the National Security law that provided for capital punishment. [14] In 2003, the Court ruled that a statute mandating death for drug activity under aggravated circumstances was “an excessive abuse of the state power to punish.” [15]

However, the Constitutional Court has upheld the constitutional validity of the death penalty on at least two occasions. On February 25, 2010, the Constitutional Court upheld the constitutionality of the provisions creating death-eligible offenses in the Criminal Act. [16] It was a closer decision (5-4) than its ruling in 1996 that capital punishment was constitutional (7-2). [17] In its 2010 decision, the Court reasoned that the text of the Constitution does not recognize fundamental rights as absolute and that even a person’s right to life may be subject to general statutory reservation when necessary for national security, the maintenance of law and order, and the public welfare. [18]

In 2005 the Supreme Court opined that capital punishment is not inconsistent with being a “reasonable judiciary” in a “civilized country.” [19]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

Decisions of the Constitutional Court of Korea can be accessed at the following website: http://english.ccourt.go.kr (in English)

Decisions of the Supreme Court of Korea can be accessed at the following website: http://eng.scourt.go.kr/eng/main/Main.work (in English)

What is the clemency process?

The President may commute death sentences. [20] Article 79 of the Constitution allows the President to “grant amnesty, commutation and restoration of rights under the conditions as prescribed by Act.” [21] If the President grants a general amnesty, the National Assembly would need to approve. [22]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

No. South Korea introduced a jury-like system in 2008, but the jurors only play an advisory role. [23] Jury verdicts are not legally binding. [24] Juries may reach a verdict for serious offenses such as murder or rape, but only after consulting with and obtaining the consent of the judge. [25] However, the practice of jury advice to the court does reportedly affect court verdicts by making sentencing less severe. [26]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Most capital cases are tried in the first instance by district courts. All death sentences must be reviewed by a higher court, and defendants sentenced to death may not waive their right of appeal. [27] In practice, it is believed that all death sentences are reviewed twice – once by a high court and once by the Supreme Court. [28] Defendants convicted under the military penal code have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court. [29] Also, individuals can file a constitutional complaint to the Constitutional Court if they believe that their basic rights have been infringed upon. A constitutional complaint may only be filed after the complainant has exhausted all other legal relief and must be filed within thirty days after the final decision of review provided by other laws. [30]

References

[1] Constitution of the Republic of Korea, art. 34, Law No. 10, Oct. 29, 1987.
[2] Constitution of the Republic of Korea, art. 6, Law No. 10, Oct. 29, 1987.
[3] South Korea Act on Aggravated Punishment etc. of Specific Crimes, Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013; South Korea Special Act on the Punishment of Sexual Crimes, Law No. 10258, Apr. 15, 2010, last amended by Law No. 11729 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[4] David Johnson & Franklin Zimring, The Next Frontier, p. 181, Oxford University Press, 2009; Aggravated Punishment for Crimes Concerning Narcotics, 2002Hun-Ba24, Constitutional Court of Korea, 2003.
[5] South Korea Act on Aggravated Punishment etc. of Specific Crimes, art. 5-8, Law No. 1744, Feb. 23, 1966, last amended by Law No. 11731 of Apr. 5, 2013.
[6] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Republic of Korea - Addendum, para. 6, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/22/10/Add.1, Jan. 16, 2013.
[7] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Republic of Korea - Addendum, para. 18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/22/10/Add.1, Jan. 16, 2013.
[8] David Johnson & Franklin Zimring, The Next Frontier, p. 148, Oxford University Press, 2009, Cho Kuk, “Death Penalty in Korea: From Unofficial Moratorium to Abolition?” p. 2, Asian Journal of Comparative Law 3(1), 2008.
[9] Kim Eun-jung, Constitutional Court rules in favor of death penalty, Yonhap News, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2010/02/25/0200000000AEN20100225009600315.HTML, last accessed Sep. 3, 2013, Cho Kuk, “Death Penalty in Korea: From Unofficial Moratorium to Abolition?” p. 2, Asian Journal of Comparative Law 3(1), 2008.
[10] Ser Myo-ja, Debate over death penalty reignited, Korea JoongAng Daily, http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/Article.aspx?aid=2959321, Sep. 12, 2012.
[11] Cho Kuk, “Death Penalty in Korea: From Unofficial Moratorium to Abolition?” p. 1, Asian Journal of Comparative Law 3(1), 2008.
[12] Cho Kuk, “Death Penalty in Korea: From Unofficial Moratorium to Abolition?” p. 13, Asian Journal of Comparative Law 3(1), 2008.
[13] Ser Myo-ja, Debate over death penalty reignited, Korea JoongAng Daily, http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/Article.aspx?aid=2959321, Sep. 12, 2012.
[14] Ha Suk, Constitutional Court Rules Article 13 of National Security Law Unconstitutional, HanGeuRae, http://www.hani.co.kr/section-005000000/2002/11/005000000200211282057466.html, Nov. 28, 2002.
[15] David Johnson & Franklin Zimring, The Next Frontier, p. 181, Oxford University Press, 2009
[16] Capital Punishment Case, p. 2, 2006 Hun-Ka 13, Constitutional Court of Korea, 2010.
[17] Kim Eun-jung, Constitutional Court rules in favor of death penalty, Yonhap News, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2010/02/25/0200000000AEN20100225009600315.HTML, last accessed Aug. 28, 2013.
[18] Capital Punishment Case, pp. 2, 3, 2006 Hun-Ka13, Constitutional Court of Korea, 2010.
[19] David Johnson & Franklin Zimring, The Next Frontier, p. 181, Oxford University Press, 2009.
[20] Amnesty Intl., When the State Kills, p. 163, Amnesty Intl. Publications, 1989.
[21] Constitution of the Republic of Korea, art. 79(1), Law No. 10, Oct. 29, 1987.
[22] Constitution of the Republic of Korea, art. 79(2), Law No. 10, Oct. 29, 1987.
[23] David Johnson & Franklin Zimring, The Next Frontier, p. 100, Oxford University Press, 2009. South Korea Law Regarding the People’s Participation in Criminal Trials, art. 12(1), Law No. 8495, Jun. 1, 2007, last amended by Law No. 11690 of Mar. 23, 2013.
[24] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Republic of Korea, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204212, Apr. 19, 2013. South Korea Law Regarding the People’s Participation in Criminal Trials, art. 12(1), Law No. 8495, Jun. 1, 2007, last amended by Law No. 11690 of Mar. 23, 2013.
[25] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Republic of Korea, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204212, Apr. 19, 2013. South Korea Law Regarding the People’s Participation in Criminal Trials, art. 46, Law No. 8495, Jun. 1, 2007, last amended by Law No. 11690 of Mar. 23, 2013.
[26] David Johnson & Franklin Zimring, The Next Frontier, p. 100, Oxford University Press, 2009
[27] Amnesty Intl., When the State Kills, p. 163, Amnesty Intl. Publications, 1989; South Korea Criminal Procedure Act, art. 349, Law No. 341, Sep. 23, 1954, last amended by Law No. 11572 of Dec. 18, 2012.
[28] Amnesty Intl., When the State Kills, p. 163, Amnesty Intl. Publications, 1989.
[29] South Korea Military Court Act, art. 442(7), Law No. 3993, Dec. 4, 1987, last amended by Law No. 11572 of Dec. 18, 2012.
[30] Constitutional Court Act, art. 69(1), Law No. 4017, Aug. 5, 1988, last amended by Law. No. 10546 of Apr. 5, 2011.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Death-sentenced prisoners are incarcerated in solitary confinement in prison and jails. [1]

Description of Prison Conditions

According to the U.S. State Department’s 2012 human rights report, prison conditions generally met international standards, and human rights observers were allowed to monitor and visit the prisons. [2] The government has made efforts to accommodate detainees who want to accuse prison officials of abuse by providing easier access to petition procedures. [3] Death row inmates are usually detained alone, but certain death-sentenced inmates are allowed to be detained with others when that is necessary for education, rehabilitation or the prevention of suicide. [4]

However, the Human Rights Committee in its 2006 concluding observations recommended that South Korea eliminate torture and ill-treatment such as the use of manacles, chains, face masks, and extended periods of punitive isolation to discipline prisoners, [5] practices which could affect prisoners on death row.

A media report in 2008 indicated that three to five prisoners were held in 35-square-foot cells at a women’s prison in Uijeongbu. [6] A prisoner attempted to file a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission but was stopped by a prison guard. [7] Overcrowding in prisons is an ongoing problem in South Korea. [8] The prevalence of the notion that criminals are not entitled to human rights has resulted in rights abuses in prisons and a nationwide disregard for the issue. [9]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

By the end of our research, we found reports of one foreign national on death row. On December 8, 2000, a 24-year-old Chinese national, Wang Liwei, was sentenced to death for robbing and murdering two women and robbing and severely injuring eight other women. [10] The Suwon District Court ruled that he threatened public safety and order and caused pain to the victims’ families by brutally damaging the lives and safety of innocent women to satisfy his greed and sexual curiosity. [11] Wang, citing depression, appealed to the Seoul High Court, but was denied on June 12, 2001. [12] The judge asserted that the motive and methods of the crimes were despicable and inhumane. [13] He also rejected the defendant’s claim that he was in a state of unsound mind at the time of the crimes, as expert opinions showed that the defendant’s depression was not severe enough to affect his reason. [14] In September 2001, the Supreme Court of Korea again upheld Wang Liwei’s death sentence. [15] As far as we know, Wang is still on death row in Korea.

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

By the end of our research, we found reports of one Chinese national on death row. [16]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

By the end of our research, we found no reports or records of any women on death row.

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

We found no reports that any current death row inmates were under the age of 18 at the time of the offense. In any event, sentencing juveniles to death would contravene South Korea’s international obligations under the ICCPR and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. [17] Amnesty International reports that South Korea has not executed any child offender since at least 1990. [18]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

By the end of our research, we found reports of one Chinese national on death row. [19] No other death row inmate is known to be ethnically non-Korean.

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Yes, the government provides court-appointed lawyers in cases where a defendant cannot afford legal counsel. [20] Legal aid is provided only from the time of indictment, but reports indicate that efforts are being made to amend the Criminal Procedure Act to provide counsel from the time of arrest. [21]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Although no reports were found about the availability of lawyers for indigent prisoners on appeal, based on South Korea’s criminal justice system and the number of legal aid lawyers, it is highly likely that lawyers are available for indigent prisoners on appeal.

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

The quality of legal representation is reported to be adequate. Defendants have the right to face their accusers and to consult with an attorney. They can present and question witnesses, access government-held evidence related to their cases, and the right to a fair trial is protected. [22]

However, a submission to the Human Rights Committee by MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society indicates that due to the lack of comprehensive government statistics, it is impossible to evaluate how well the current legal aid system guarantees the poor substantial legal representation. [23] Moreover, although the Constitution and other laws guarantee a suspect’s and defendant’s rights to counsel, MINBYUN reports that this right is not always respected in practice. The right to a defense counsel is undermined by the denial of the detainee’s access to legal counsel by investigative agencies, the obstruction or delay of contact between the defense counsel and the defendant, and the infringement of confidential communication between the detainee and the counsel. [24] Furthermore, defense lawyers are frequently not tolerated during interrogations, which increases the vulnerability of the suspect. [25] The Criminal Procedure Act Amendment Bill, article 243, section 2 legally permits a counselor’s participation in the suspect’s investigation and interrogation, but whether this is true in practice is questionable. [26]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

Although the law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, the National Security Law grants authorities the power to detain, arrest and imprison those who commit acts that the government views as intended to endanger the “security of the state.” [27] Human rights organizations contend that the provision of the National Security Law does not define prohibited activity clearly and have called for the law to be repealed. [28]

There is a bail system, but human rights lawyers contend that bail is not granted for detainees who are charged with committing serious offenses. [29]

Moreover, a submission to the UN Human Rights Council by 53 South Korean NGOs states that military personnel and civilian workers in the military are not guaranteed their rights to fair trial. Military courts operate under the Ministry of Defense instead of the Supreme Court of Justice, and military court adjudicators appointed by the Ministry of Defense are military officers and not legal professionals. [30]

References

[1] Act on Executions and Treatment of Prisoners, art. 11, Law No. 8728, Dec. 21, 2007, last amended by Law No. 11005 of Aug. 4, 2011. Act on Executions in the Military and Treatment of Military Prisoners, art. 77, Law No. 9819, Nov. 2, 2009, last amended by Law No. 11005 of Aug. 4, 2011.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Republic of Korea, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204212, Apr. 19, 2013.
[3] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Republic of Korea, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204212, Apr. 19, 2013.
[4] Act on Executions and Treatment of Prisoners, art. 89(1), Law No. 8728, Dec. 21, 2007, last amended by Law No. 11005 of Aug. 4, 2011.
[5] U.N. ICCPR, Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Republic of Korea, para. 13, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/KOR/CO/3, Nov. 28, 2006.
[6] Jun Jong-hui, Reform the Prisons (in Korean), The Hankyoreh, http://h21.hani.co.kr/arti/society/society_general/23790.html, Nov. 21, 2008.
[7] Jun Jong-hui, Reform the Prisons (in Korean), The Hankyoreh, http://h21.hani.co.kr/arti/society/society_general/23790.html, Nov. 21, 2008.
[8] Jun Jong-hui, Reform the Prisons (in Korean), The Hankyoreh, http://h21.hani.co.kr/arti/society/society_general/23790.html, Nov. 21, 2008.
[9] Jun Jong-hui, Reform the Prisons (in Korean), The Hankyoreh, http://h21.hani.co.kr/arti/society/society_general/23790.html, Nov. 21, 2008.
[10] Lee Su-hyang, Unforgettable Cases No. 97: An-san Chinese Apprentice’s Grotesque Actions (in Korean), Ilyo News, https://ilyo.co.kr/detail.php?number=11512&thread=02r04, Dec. 28, 2008.
[11] Lee Su-hyang, Unforgettable Cases No. 97: An-san Chinese Apprentice’s Grotesque Actions (in Korean), Ilyo News, https://ilyo.co.kr/detail.php?number=11512&thread=02r04, Dec. 28, 2008.
[12] Lee Su-hyang, Unforgettable Cases No. 97: An-san Chinese Apprentice’s Grotesque Actions (in Korean), Ilyo News, https://ilyo.co.kr/detail.php?number=11512&thread=02r04, Dec. 28, 2008.
[13] Lee Su-hyang, Unforgettable Cases No. 97: An-san Chinese Apprentice’s Grotesque Actions (in Korean), Ilyo News, https://ilyo.co.kr/detail.php?number=11512&thread=02r04, Dec. 28, 2008.
[14] Lee Su-hyang, Unforgettable Cases No. 97: An-san Chinese Apprentice’s Grotesque Actions (in Korean), Ilyo News, https://ilyo.co.kr/detail.php?number=11512&thread=02r04, Dec. 28, 2008.
[15] Lee Su-hyang, Unforgettable Cases No. 97: An-san Chinese Apprentice’s Grotesque Actions (in Korean), Ilyo News, https://ilyo.co.kr/detail.php?number=11512&thread=02r04, Dec. 28, 2008.
[16] Lee Su-hyang, Unforgettable Cases No. 97: An-san Chinese Apprentice’s Grotesque Actions (in Korean), Ilyo News, https://ilyo.co.kr/detail.php?number=11512&thread=02r04, Dec. 28, 2008.
[17] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 28, 2013. Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/MTDSG/Volume%20I/Chapter%20IV/IV-11.en.pdf, last accessed Aug. 28, 2013.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Executions of Juveniles Since 1990, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/executions-of-child-offenders-since-1990, last accessed Aug. 30, 2013.
[19] Lee Su-hyang, Unforgettable Cases No. 97: An-san Chinese Apprentice’s Grotesque Actions (in Korean), Ilyo News, https://ilyo.co.kr/detail.php?number=11512&thread=02r04, Dec. 28, 2008.
[20] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Republic of Korea, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204212, Apr. 19, 2013. South Korea Criminal Procedure Act, art. 33(2), Law No. 341, Sep. 23, 1954, last amended by Law No. 11572 of Dec. 18, 2012.
[21] Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A worldwide Perspective, p. 223, Oxford University Press, 2008. U.N. ECOSOC, Substantive session of 2005, Capital Punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, p. 9, U.N. Doc. E/2005/3/Add. 1, Jul. 5-29, 2005.
[22] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Republic of Korea, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204212, Apr. 19, 2013.
[23] MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Human Rights in Republic of Korea: The Counter Report to the Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under Article 40 of International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, para. 3, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/ngos/MINBYUN-partI.pdf, Oct., 2006.
[24] MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Human Rights in Republic of Korea: The Counter Report to the Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under Article 40 of International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, para. 63, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/ngos/MINBYUN-partI.pdf, Oct., 2006.
[25] MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Human Rights in Republic of Korea: The Counter Report to the Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under Article 40 of International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, para. 64, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/ngos/MINBYUN-partI.pdf, Oct., 2006.
[26] MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Human Rights in Republic of Korea: The Counter Report to the Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Korea under Article 40 of International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, para. 66, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/ngos/MINBYUN-partI.pdf, Oct., 2006.
[27] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Republic of Korea, Arbitrary Arrest or Detention, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204212, Apr. 19, 2013.
[28] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Republic of Korea, Arbitrary Arrest or Detention, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204212, Apr. 19, 2013.
[29] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Republic of Korea, Arbitrary Arrest or Detention, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204212, Apr. 19, 2013.
[30] The Korean NGO Coalition, Joint NGO Submission: The 14th Session of the Universal Periodic Review on the Republic of Korea, para. 13, http://minbyun.org/english/archives/category/submissions-to-the-un-human-rights-council, Apr. 23, 2012.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

By the end of our research, we found no recent decisions or observations of the Human Rights Committee regarding the death penalty in Republic of Korea. However, the HRC in its 2006 concluding observations pursuant to periodic review of human rights in the Republic of Korea recommended that South Korea eliminate torture and ill-treatment such as the use of manacles, chains, face masks, and extended periods of punitive isolation to discipline prisoners, [1] practices which could affect prisoners on death row.

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

In 2008 the Human Rights Council expressed concern that the death penalty could still be imposed for a number of crimes and offences, that some 60 prisoners remain on death row and that death sentences were continuously pronounced. [2] South Korea responded that the abolition of the death penalty requires a national consensus and consideration of criminal justice, social conditions, and public opinion. [3]

In its 2012 Universal Periodic Review, the Human Rights Council recommended that the Republic of Korea maintain the current de facto moratorium, progress towards the abolition of the death penalty and legislate to abolish the death penalty. [4] South Korea did not accept these recommendations, but it responded that the abolition of the death penalty is an important matter in terms of its criminal jurisdiction. [5] The South Korean government once again promised careful review, taking into account factors such as public opinion, legal perception, social realities, and criminal policy. [6]

References

[1] U.N. ICCPR, Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Republic of Korea, para. 13, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/KOR/CO/3, Nov. 28, 2006.
[2] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, para. 38, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/8/40, May 29, 2008.
[3] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Republic of Korea - Addendum, p. 4, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/8/40/Add.1, Aug. 25, 2008.
[4] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Republic of Korea, paras. 41, 42, 50, 72, 73, 86, 89, 94, 100, 104, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/22/10, Dec. 12, 2012.
[5] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Republic of Korea - Addendum, para. 18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/22/10/Add.1, Jan. 16, 2013.
[6] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Republic of Korea - Addendum, para. 18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/22/10/Add.1, Jan. 16, 2013.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society
http://eng.minbyun.or.kr/
Address: 5F, Sinjeong B/D, 1555-3, Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea, P.O. 137-070
admin@minbyun.or.kr
Tel: +82 2 522 7284
Fax: +82 2 522 7285

Sarangbang Group For Human Rights
http://sarangbang.or.kr/kr/new (in Korean)
human rights@sarangbang.or.kr
Tel: +82 2 365 5363
Fax: +82 2 365 5364

Helpful Reports and Publications

David Johnson & Franklin Zimring, The Next Frontier: National Development, Political Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia (Studies in Crime and Public Policy), Oxford University Press, 2009.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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