Law of North Korea

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The Law of North Korea (officially called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) is a codified civil law system inherited from the Japanese and influenced by the Soviet Union. It is governed by a socialist constitution and operates within the political system of North Korea.

Legal system[edit]

North Korea has a codified civil law system, which was inherited from colonial Japan and is similar to South Korea's system. There are over 100 laws and regulations. The foreign investment laws are well-developed and up-to-date, and there is a highly developed arbitration system.[1]

North Korea has a three-tier court system, based on the Soviet model, comprising a Central Court, provincial courts, and county courts. Judicial affairs are handled by the Central Procurator's Office.[2]

The penal code is based on the principle of nullum crimen sine lege (no crime without a law), but remains a tool for political control despite several amendments reducing ideological influence.[3] Courts carry out legal procedures related to not only criminal and civil matters, but also political cases as well.[4] Political prisoners are sent to labor camps, while criminal offenders are incarcerated in a separate system.[5]

Legal profession[edit]

North Korean attorneys must join the Choson Bar Association. The association's Central Committee determines professional standards, as well as the qualifying or disqualifying of attorneys. Attorneys are not hired by individuals or agencies, but rather the committee collects legal representation requests and then assigns cases and pays remunerations to the assignee. However, attorneys do not have a monopoly on providing legal services as anyone might provide representation in civil or criminal proceedings. The Law College at Kim Il Sung University is the only university-level institution that provides legal education.[6] For 12 years, Mike Hay was the only foreign lawyer operating in North Korea. He reported winning or partly winning 70% of cases when representing foreign firms.[7]

Law and politics[edit]

According to Robert Collins of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, the specific hierarchy of authority in North Korea is the words or personal directives of Kim Jong-un, followed by the Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System, WPK directives —particularly the policy guidance of the WPK Secretariat’s Organization and Guidance Department, the WPK Charter and domestic civil laws, and finally the North Korean Constitution. The WPK, while maintaining the dominant political role within the North Korean party-state, came to serve the leader in primacy above all other political entities. As in other communist political systems, the state and society serve the party, and civil laws do not bind the party.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Salmon, Andrew (3 December 2018). "Getting to grips with law and business in high-risk North Korea". Asia Times.
  2. ^ DeRouen, Karl R.; Bellamy, Paul, eds. (2007). International Security and the United States: An Encyclopedia. 1. Westport: Praeger Security International. p. 567. ISBN 978-0-313-08486-7.
  3. ^ Country Study 2009.
  4. ^ Country Study 2009, p. 201.
  5. ^ "Outside World Turns Blind Eye to N. Korea's Hard-Labor Camps". The Washington Post. 20 July 2009. Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ Seoul, Yonhap News Agency (2002-12-27). North Korea Handbook. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 9780765635235.
  7. ^ Salmon, Andrew (3 December 2018). "Getting to grips with law and business in high-risk North Korea". Asia Times.
  8. ^ Songbun- North Korea’s Social Classification System, pg.15

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]