In Korea, “mistake of law” does not mean: “That’s illegal here? I did not know that. Oops, my bad!”
Rather, it means: “I, in good faith, misunderstood that in my particular case, it’d be totally fine…”
The moment we set foot in a country, it becomes our duty to know and obey the local laws. Granted, all governments should do a better job of informing the public.
I feel these initial stages of implementing the Kim Young-ran Law/Act will be a rare occasion during which the “mistake of law” defense could actually be raised successfully. The accused would have to show (in court) that it was not unreasonable for him/her to have thought so. (Not “I did not know such a law existed!”)
To learn more about criminal defenses in general, click here.