Korean Law Demystified!

Korean Traffic Laws: Tail Biting & Cutting In

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Since November 23, 2013, the following traffic violations (in Korea) have been punished more severely:

1) “Tail Biting” (꼬리물기), and

2) “Cutting In” (끼어들기).

By “more severely,” I mean these violations are now monitored/recorded via cameras. Before, a police officer would have to catch the driver in the act.

Now, (unmanned) cameras can also monitor/record such traffic violations. If caught on camera, a ticket is sent to the vehicle owner’s residence (i.e., not the driver’s). The owner will have to pay a fine in the form of “과태료.” This is a heavier fine. But neither “과태료” nor “범칙금” are criminal punishments. A fine only in the form of “벌금” (or “과료”) is a criminal punishment.

This, in turn, means neither “Tail Biting” nor “Cutting In” are crimes. They are (mere) traffic violations fined in the form of “범칙금” or “과태료.”

– 범칙금: ticket/fine

– 과태료: administrative fine

FYI, the police banner above reads: “Cutting In!” “Tail Biting!” Being monitored/enforced via camcorder. From November 23, violators caught on camera will face an administrative fine (과태료)!

Related news report below.

DID YOU KNOW? (Types of “Fines” under Korean Law)

1) 범칙금: The violation is not a “crime.”

2) 과태료: The violation is not a “crime.”

3) 벌금 (criminal fine): This is a criminal punishment. A “crime” has been committed. This term was erroneous used in the above news report. Note the anchorwoman correctly said “과태료,” but the explanation on the screen erroneously read “벌금.”


I. “Tail Biting” (꼬리물기)

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1) A violation under Article 25(5) of the Road Traffic Act (도로교통법).

2) What it is: At a crossroad, making a left turn (on his/her green light) even though the driver is able to foresee that he/she could hinder traffic (i.e., a queue of vehicles still waiting/wanting to go). Subsequently, he/she is stuck (his/her red light now), and the vehicles on the other side are unable to proceed (like above).

3) What it isn’t: Had the driver made a left turn on his/her red or amber light, that would be a different traffic violation (i.e., “signal violation”), not “Tail Biting.” But, both are traffic violations nonetheless.

4) Punishment for Violation

a) Ticket/Fine (범칙금): The driver is fined.

i) Van/Bus, etc (capacity: 11 persons or more): KRW 50,000

ii) Car/Sedan, etc: KRW 40,000

iii) Motorcycle, etc: KRW 30,000

iv) Bicycle, etc: KRW 20,000

b) Administrative Fine (과태료): The vehicle owner is fined.

i) Van/Bus, etc (capacity: 11 persons or more): KRW 60,000

ii) Car/Sedan, etc: KRW 50,000

iii) Motorcycle, etc: KRW 40,000


II. “Cutting In” (끼어들기)

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1) A violation under Article 23 of the Road Traffic Act.

2) What it is: Vehicles are queued up on an exit. And, a vehicle (from another lane) unlawfully cuts in at either “broken” or “continuous” lines (like above). Aka “queue jumping.”

3) What it isn’t: If vehicles are traveling at normal speeds and a vehicle changes lanes lawfully. This is not “Cutting In.”

4) Punishment for Violation

a) Ticket/Fine (범칙금): The driver is fined.

i) Van/Bus, etc (capacity: 11 persons or more): KRW 30,000

ii) Car/Sedan, etc: KRW 30,000

iii) Motorcycle, etc: KRW 20,000

iv) Bicycle, etc: KRW 10,000

b) Administrative Fine (과태료): The vehicle owner is fined.

i) Van/Bus, etc (capacity: 11 persons or more): KRW 40,000

ii) Car/Sedan, etc: KRW 40,000

iii) Motorcycle, etc: KRW 30,000

Thanks for reading!

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