Korean Law Demystified!

Drunk Driving + Creating/Fleeing a Minor Accident (in Korea)

If found guilty, the punishment is normally a criminal fine of 7-8 mil won. But if there are aggravating circumstances, a heavier fine (or prison sentence via probation) are also possible. “Probation” means no actual prison time. Prison sentences w/o probation (i.e., actual prison time) have been rendered but only for incorrigible repeat offenders (e.g., 5th time’s the charm).

As you may know, Korean MLB player Kang Jung-ho was recently charged with this crime. I don’t know what exactly the sentence will be. The aggravating circumstances for him is that this was actually his 3rd DUI. (I don’t think the previous ones involved leaving the scene.) At any rate, it’s unlikely he will actually serve time in jail. Probably a heavy/max fine or probation at best.

What could have really sent him to jail would have been if he had asked his friend/passenger that night to take the rap. Originally, that was the speculation. His friend/passenger first showed up to take the blame, but car black box footage revealed that was a lie. The friend then confessed he said so on his own volition, and there was no evidence to think otherwise. Kang was not charged with “abetting the escape of a criminal” which is a serious crime.

Knowingly assisting/helping a criminal escape is a serious crime anywhere. But interestingly in Korea, if this crime is committed by a relative or cohabitating family member (of the criminal), it actually becomes unpunishable. Maybe this is one influence of Confucianism which is said to value (above all) family ties and age/seniority, etc. Simply put, ratting on one of your own is not always applauded. This is interesting because I feel that in the West, this is something often applauded and even expected.

I feel one debilitating aspect of Confucianism is the importance it places on “appearances.” We can’t ignore “form” altogether, but surely it can’t be nearly as importance as “substance.” And I would say our tendency to focus on quantity rather than quality is an extension. (e.g., How many hours did you study/work…?)

DID YOU KNOW? Drunk driving is unpunishable if the driver had no other reasonable choice (e.g., your replacement driver took off with very little to go, you’re rushing someone to the ER…).


Thanks for reading!

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