Korean Law Demystified!

When is a FINE a CRIMINAL FINE (in Korea)?


A: When it is referred to as “벌금” (in Korean).

When referred to as “과태료” or “범칙금,” the fine is not a criminal fine. So, unlike “벌금,” these two don’t end/show up on one’s criminal record.

For example: The punishment for conducting unreported private tutoring is “1년 이하의 징역 또는 500만원 이하의 벌금.” In contrast, the punishment for (mere) failure to post/show one’s certificate of report is “300만원 이하의 과태료.” The former is a crime, while the latter is not.

Note: The max (criminal) fine for the former will be increased to 10 mil won starting November. Korean law changes quickly, out of the blue.

DID YOU KNOW? Earlier this year, the Constitutional Court of Korea found as constitutional the law criminalizing unreported private tutoring. The law currently allows unreported private tutoring only if you’re a college/graduate student (not on leave). News report here.

“범칙금” are fines relating to minor offenses/crimes or traffic violations such as speeding or failure to buckle up. (Drunk driving is a crime.)

TLDR: When the English version of a Korean law says “fine,” it usually means criminal fine.

Thanks for reading!

I also recommend this post: https://klawguru.com/2016/07/11/what-if-i-cantwont-pay-the-criminal-fine-%EB%B2%8C%EA%B8%88/

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