Korean Law Demystified!

What is 구속?

Normally translated as “detention” or (simply) “arrest,” 구속 is a sort of “prolonged arrest” that is only found in Korean and Japanese criminal procedure. (The problem with translating it simply as “arrest” is that we already have a corresponding term, which is “체포.” I would maybe prefer “detention” over “arrest.”)

In a nutshell: The purpose is to, “ensure the rightful execution of criminal procedure and/or eventual punishment.” Like arrests, a warrant (by the court) is required. A prosecutor applies for a warrant either for him/herself or on behalf of the police. This application should be made at least 48 hours within an arrest. In principle, 구속 can be granted for 10 days max . When this period is about to expire, the prosecution (but not police) can ask for an extension (i.e., an additional 10 days). So during an investigation, 구속 can last for a max of 30 days (i.e., 10 days by police + 20 days by prosecution). Once indicted/prosecuted, the court can further 구속 a defendant for up to 6 months (during each stage of the trial).

A court will issue/approve a warrant for 구속 when: There is considerable suspicion the suspect has committed a crime + a) S/he is not specifically residing anywhere, or b) There is concern of s/he might go destroy evidence, or c) Concern s/he might flee.

DID YOU KNOW? There are actually 2 types of 구속 warrants. One is to force the person to appear (i.e., 구인영장); the other is to confine/detain such a person (i.e., 구금영장). The latter warrant includes the former, but not the other way around.

What is 구속영장실질심사제도: Before a judge can issue/approve a warrant for 구속, the law requires him/her to interview (at length) the suspect (w/o delay). The judge can/will appoint a public defender (if need be). The judge must reject the request for a warrant if: a) there’s been procedural violations, or b) there’s not enough evidence to support the need for 구속.

Happy Easter, I will try to write some more next time! 🙂


4 Responses to “What is 구속?”

  1. Jen

    This is interesting–thanks for sharing! 구속영장실질심사제도 sounds similar to but better than the bail system used in the U.S., which is overused and keeps too many people locked up pretrial. The US system basically punishes poor defendants who are not dangerous or likely to flee but cannot afford bail.

    • Juwon Kang

      Hi Jen! It’s really nice to talk to you! Yes, I wanted to write about the Korean bail system as well. Oh, I just finished watching “Making a Murderer” on Netflix. I don’t know what to think… Many thoughts cross my mind.

      • Jen

        I couldn’t finish watching that because it made me so angry! Thanks for reminding me that I need to finish watching it. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on that one day after you’ve had time to think about it. I wouldn’t even know where to start talking about the issues it raises.

      • Juwon Kang

        Yeah, it’s hard because I did some research online, and it seems even that documentary is not 100% unbiased. I’m kinda leaning towards he did the murder (but not the first crime, of course)…

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