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Monopoly of justice: a study of investigative and prosecutorial arms of the prosecution service in the Republic of Korea

Choe, Daehyun (2012) Monopoly of justice: a study of investigative and prosecutorial arms of the prosecution service in the Republic of Korea. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86498) (KAR id:86498)


The South Korean criminal justice system is often described as 'Prosecutorial Justice'. Most investigative and prosecutorial powers are exercised only by prosecutors. It is decisions made by prosecutors that usually decide the outcomes of trials. On the basis of its extensive powers, the prosecution service has achieved a conviction rate exceeding ninety-nine per cent, which is one of the highest in the world.

This thesis explores the Korean prosecutor's position and its impact. Three aspects are discussed: the trial which relies heavily on prosecution file and records of interview; the protection of the defendant's constitutional rights; and the relationship between the police and prosecutors. Unlike previous studies, this research has employed quantitative and qualitative empirical methods including content analysis (464 news articles), a survey based on self-completion questionnaires (1,144 police officers), and semistructured interviewing (20 legal professionals). In addition, in order to gain insight into the Korean criminal procedure, the role, power and accountability of the Korean prosecution service are compared to those of five representative systems in England and Wales, the USA, France, Germany and Japan. The findings of this study are that a ninety-nine per cent of conviction rate does not demonstrate any great capability of the prosecution service. Rather, it leads to restricted constitutional rights of the defendants and meaningless trials which serve only to confirm the prosecutorial decisions. In addition, this domination over the criminal justice system and the powers of direct investigation increase occupational stress for police officers. This in tum leads to the performance of the police being downgraded, and as a result, inefficiency in the criminal j ustice system. Justice cannot be achieved by the monopoly of one legal actor over all criminal proceedings. Rather, the criminal process needs a system of checks and balances. The powers which are currently monopolised by the prosecutors should be separated and their decisions should be reviewed by appropriate monitoring schemes including citizens, judges and independent reviewing mechanisms.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86498
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Republic of Korea, law, prosecutorial justice
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 13:54 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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