Legal Affairs Bureau

The Legal Affairs Bureau consists of: the Office of Legal Counsel, the Legal Affairs Division, the International Legal Affairs Division, the Litigation Division, the Unification Legal Affairs Division, the Commercial Affairs Division and the Legal Profession Division.

The Office of Legal Counsel assists the Minister of Justice in offering legal advice to the President. It also renders legal advice to the Prime Minister and Ministers; provides authoritative interpretations of laws to government bodies; conducts researches on domestic and foreign laws; examines the judicial system and provides suggestions on potential improvements thereof; and issues publications related to legal affairs.

Legal Affairs Bureau The Legal Affairs Division regulates attorneys' affairs, officially authorizes law firms and legal consultation offices, and appoints and supervises notaries public.
The recent dramatic increase in the National Judicial Examination (Korean Bar) admission rate resulted in the rapid boost in the number of attorneys, law firms and notary offices operating in Korea. The total number of registered attorneys almost trippled from 3,845 in 1996 to 11,016 in 2009. The number of law firms in operation also went up by 3.6 times over the last decade. The number of registered notary offices steadily increased to 417 during the same period. In addition, the Division establishes and implements various policies to reinforce the ethics and morals of the legal profession as well as to strengthen global competitiveness of the domestic legal services.

The International Legal Affairs Division is responsible for various legal matters that have international dimensions. The Division provides legal advice to related authorities concerning international trade laws and treaties; participates in trade negotiations with foreign countries; attends international legal conferences; cooperates with other nations for legal information exchange; and publishes works on international trade laws and private international laws.
Since 1992, the Division has dispatched prosecutors to the Korean Embassies in the United Nations, United States, Geneva, China, Japan and Germany to provide legal consultation on international trade laws. They have actively performed their duties as advisers on international trade laws and private international laws and as participants in international trade negotiations and legal conferences.
The Division has also set up the Legal Service Center for International Trade and Investment in order to provide more substantive legal advice on international trade affairs to other government bodies and domestic enterprises. The Center is composed of the prosecutors of the Division who collaborate with lawyers from various law firms and officials from different ministries.
The Division participates in, or dispatches academic delegates to, international conferences, seminars and colloquiums joined by countries with different legal systems and traditions to deepen knowledge on private laws and commercial laws of other nations.
To promote legal information exchange and mutual cooperation, the Division organizes seminars and lectures for prosecutors and lawyers from developing Asian countries and countries in transition to market economy.
As the wave of globalization intensifies worldwide, the Division's role is expected to expand further to match the growing significance of international legal affairs.
The Litigation Division directs and supervises civil lawsuits in which Korea is involved as a party. In such suits, the Minister of Justice represents the Republic of Korea and assigns prosecutors, public-service advocates (public attorneys who are in mandatory military service) or officials of the relevant administrative agencies to handle the cases.
The Division also directs and supervises administrative lawsuits in which government agencies or local government bodies are involved. In particular, the Division directly handles cases where the Minister of Justice is the named defendant. The vast majority of administrative lawsuits are dealt with by officials of government agencies that are parties to the lawsuits under the close supervision of the Division. However, prosecutors or public-service advocates are appointed to handle the cases directly, if necessary.
Moreover, the Division provides assistance to the operation of the Central Compensation Council, which considers and renders decisions regarding government liabilities; supervises the operation of District Compensation Council; and presents the Ministry's official opinion on constitutional cases to the Constitutional Court.
The Division establishes litigation policies and offers opinions on legal matters upon requests of other government bodies; holds training programs and seminars; and publishes litigation-related materials to enhance litigation capabilities of relevant government officials.
In the year 2009, the Division processed a total of 45,923 civil, administrative, constitutional and governmental liability cases.

Legal Affairs Bureau The Unification Legal Affairs Division was established in 1992 to address legal issues stemming from developments in the inter-Korean relations. It provides legal advice regarding reunification issues to the President, the Prime Minister and Ministers; presents reliable interpretation on related laws to government bodies; researches the judicial system of North Korea; and studies unification laws and cases of other countries.
In an effort to bridge the widening gap between the South and the North, the Division provides legal assistance programs in a variety of fields including culture, academics and economy. It has also contributed to the successful establishment of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex and the Geumgang Mountain Special Tourism Zone in the North.

The Commercial Legal Affairs Division drafts bills on commercial affairs and provides authoritative interpretations to government bodies on the application of commercial laws. It also deals with the management of electronic securities including electronic notes. The Division was established in February 2005 as a part of the Office of Legal Counsel, but it became an independent division in November 2007. Despite its short history, the Division completed the revision of Part (Marine Trade) of the Commercial Act, and is currently working on the revision of Part (Companies) and Part (Insurance).
Moreover, the Division has contributed to the Korean legislation on commercial affairs by conducting researches and adopting the international standards.

The Legal Profession Division formulates the Ministry's policies on the admission and training of lawyers. The Division was established on April 23, 2001 when the administrative duties of the National Judicial Examination and the Military Attorneys Examination were transferred from the Ministry of Government and Home Affairs (the predecessor of the Ministry of Security and Public Administration) to the Ministry of Justice. The Division started administering these exams from 2002.
The Division is also responsible for setting all exam-relates issues, such as the test subjects and the number of applicants who pass the exam. Based on extensive researches and studies, it attempts to build an optimal system to select and produce lawyers who will play leading roles in a democratic and global society.