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The Analysis of the Korean Criminal Justice System and Its Management (II)

  • Shin, Eui-gi, Lee, Yoo-na, Lee, Min-ho, Won, So-hyeon, Lim, Sung-geun, Do, Gyu-youp, Jung, Hee-soo   |   2017
  • Friday, October 19, 2018
  • Hits : 45

A criminal justice-related activity refers to the prevention of crimes defined by the government and the handling of criminals. Therefore, it could be hardly left to a private sector. Even though it is handed over to private firms, its scope of execution would be limited. In criminal justice, the organizational goal of criminal justice agencies focus on fair tasks regarding the maintenance of state laws and order; hence, the organizations and their personnel concentrate on processing the cases as quickly as possible. Regardless of the confinement, the criminal justice procedures can cause physical and mental pain. Therefore, the handling of cases in a fair and prompt manner is also essential.


Korean criminal justice authorities organize the most efficient teams to handle the investigation, trials, and prosecution in a fast and fair way and have the systems designed to protect the human rights of the suspects, defendants, and prisoner. Thanks to these efforts, the organizations have been restructured to emphasize human rights. In addition, the recruitment and appointment of government employees working for criminal justice agencies are strictly controlled by laws.


Despite such efforts, the people’s trust in criminal justice authorities is still reasonably low. In other words, at the moment, the Korean criminal justice agencies’ primary goal is to regain the trust of its people. For this, it is needed to eliminate a gap in perspectives between criminal justice agency employees and the general public and see things from the public’s standpoint.


The purpose of this study is to examine the organizational changes in criminal justice agencies and their staffing and operating systems and set a desirable direction for them. Criminal justice authorities have been committed to achieving their fundamental and specific goals according to contemporary circumstances. However, their organizational changes haven’t been flexible because they are installed and operated by laws, and their ultimate goal is not to make profits. In addition, their personnel is also managed and operated by law; they are hard to change.


In operating all agencies, organization and personnel are the most critical elements. A criminal justice agency is an organization designed to realize social justice. In regards to criminal justice authorities, the fair treatment of criminals and the protection of their human rights have been the primary goal. They aim to treat all people and handle cases in an equal and fair manner. Therefore, they differ from other organizations whose primary goal is to improve efficiency.


Due to the population growth and the restructuring of administrative organizations, Korean criminal justice agencies have expanded. However, their organization and staffing system has not changed much. There have been various attempts to operate criminal justice agencies more efficiently, and the current system would be the outcome of such efforts. Concerning staffing, employees have been recruited through open recruitment or special recruitment, if necessary. During the process, the most critical part is to stay fair and transparent. In Korean criminal justice staffing agencies, the objective criteria are set, and recruitment is strictly managed accordingly for fairness.


Under this situation, this study investigated the organizational changes of the police, prosecutor’s office, correctional organizations, and protection agencies. From a chronological standpoint, the organizational changes and the development of criminal justice agencies since the national liberation were analyzed. In addition to simple organizational changes, this study considered the causes of such changes and the social, political and economic factors. There is too much data to recount to discover the organizational changes in detail. In addition, this kind of posture can distract the primary purpose. Therefore, the examination is done at a minimum level. The changes from the past have already been covered by each agency sufficiently. Therefore, they were mentioned only when needed in this study.


Foreign systems have their circumstances so that they cannot be directly applied to South Korea. However, they could be used as useful references. Therefore, this study investigated the organization and staffing management of four countries (the U.K., the U.S., Germany, and Japan) which are closely related to the Korean criminal justice system. Regarding the operation of criminal justice, these foreign countries are different from South Korea by that it is strictly regulated and operated by laws. For example, the U.S. has the tradition of a state and a federal government-centered parallel criminal justice system. Therefore, the relational structure between the federal and state criminal justice systems has been a critical issue according to its jurisdiction along with the functional relationship of each criminal justice system. Unlike South Korea, in addition, the overall organization and operation of criminal justice systems were often decided by an election, like in most advanced countries. In addition, the traditional principle of checks and balances are reflected on the criminal law system through the restriction on job involvement through a clear job classification and mutual respect among the police, prosecutor’s office, court, and correctional organizations. In the U.S., an investigation by the prosecutor’s office has been strengthened.


Regarding court organization, the conventional diverse and complicated state government system has been systematized and integrated. The integration of trial courts has consequently reduced the use of non-legal, part-time court staff. In addition, the recruitment of specialized and qualified judges is rising. Concerning a judicial recruitment system, despite the existence of a traditional election-based method, merit, system-based recruitment through the establishment of ‘Judge Appointment Committee’ has become more popular.


Unlike the U.S., the U.K. adopts a parliamentary system and has emphasized the principle of private prosecution based on the long tradition of local autonomy and common law. As a result, even though it is considerably decentralized geographically, it is integrated by the legislature from the functions of the criminal justice system. This style of a British justice administrative system lasted until the mid-20th century, but new aspects started to appear during the system changes in the 1960s. First of all, investigation and prosecution were divided by the centralization of the police organization and emphasized on a public prosecution. Since the establishment of the prosecutor’s office in 1986, public prosecution has expanded. In addition, the government intervention was more emphasized in the criminal justice system. With the establishment of the prosecutor’s office, investigations and prosecutions are now handled by the police and prosecutor’s office, respectively. The checks and balances between the two government agencies are one of the most innovative changes in the British criminal justice system. With the enactment of the Constitutional Reform Act in 2005, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom isolated from the legislative assembly and was established. As the court’s independence was reinforced, its role and position were more emphasized in a relationship with other criminal justice agencies.


In regards to German criminal justice system-related trends, an organic collaboration between the federal police and state police are emphasized to respond to international terror attacks properly. Germany has prevented terror threats through the GTAZ (Joint Counter Terrorism Centre) as a cooperation entity between federal and state agencies. The significant change relating to the prosecutor’s office is the birth of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). The European Union (EU) agreed to launch the EPPO on June 8, 2017. At present, a total of 20 countries participate in the establishment of the EPPO, and Germany has also agreed. The EPPO is the EU’s independent organization and established in accordance with Article 86 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The EPPO probed on fraud which causes economic damage to the EU and other crimes which spoil the financial benefits of the EU. Regarding the crimes which violate the financial benefits of the EU, the criminal prosecutions of the EU and each country are integrated.


Japan has a dual policy system: national police and local police. The order and safety of the government and autonomous groups are maintained under the control of the National Public Safety Commission and the local public safety commissions. In the case of independent authorities, it became very close to people’s lives with the improvement of living safety functions. Its operation and administration should also be adjusted according to the changes. In this case, a matter which is beyond the autonomous group’s capability is handled by the national police. Therefore, the Japanese police have a dual system, but the two entities are very closely connected to each other. Japan’s prosecutor’s office gets involved in criminal lawsuits as the leader of public interests and is responsible for protecting the fair benefits of the suspect and defendant. The prosecutor’s office holds a powerful probe by taking over the power of prosecution. It kept the supporting units such as an administrative prosecution officer with a guaranteed discretionary power and formed a cooperative relationship with the police. Entering the 2000s, the court of justice introduced a jury system comprised of the general public. This system can be viewed as a part of the efforts to prevent laws from being isolated from people’s lives and emotions.


In the Republic of Korea, there have been many changes in criminal justice, and such changes are closely related to organizational and personnel issues. Many tasks have been discussed: the adjustment of the investigation right by the prosecutor’s office and police, the introduction of an autonomous police system, unification of laws, the establishment of high-rank government official crime investigation department, and the reform of the court administrative bureau and impendence of corrective protection organization. Since these changes always caused organizational restructuring and staffing, a preventive response should be developed in advance.


Regarding the police, the matter relating to the autonomous police system is the most critical issue. For example, the autonomous police system was mentioned as one of the government goals for the Moon Jae-in administration. However, there should be a few parts which are not decided yet. The autonomous policy unit was launched at Jeju Special Self-governing Province in July 2006. Even though it’s been operated for over a decade, there still are a lot of pros and cons on the autonomous police system. However, there still are many parts that need to be decided regarding the introduction of the autonomous police system. The introduction of the autonomous police system is matched with the adjustment of the probe rights of the prosecutor’s office and police. The structure of the investigation is decided depending on the scope and roles of the autonomous police; it is essential to envision its specific aspects. This study proposed an efficient introduction of the autonomous police system and an alternative to coordinate probe rights between the prosecutors and police. Furthermore, it investigated a job title and improvement plan of police workforces. In the police workforce, the percentage of its general government employees is small. To improve its organizational flexibility, therefore, this study reviewed this issue and suggested a plan to improve the police rank system which is more complicated than other government employee systems.


Regarding the prosecutor’s office, the following issues were discussed: remaining neutral by keeping the Ministry of Justice away from the influence of the prosecutor’s office, the appointment of the director of the prosecutor’s office by direct election, and the establishment of the Crime Investigation Bureau for High-ranked Officials. To ensure that the prosecutors remain neutral, they could be kept off from the administrative power by ensuring the independent appointment rights and extension of the term of office of the Prosecutor General. The appointment of the director of the prosecutor’s office by direct election could be a solution, but some people insist that it is not suitable for the Republic of Korea. Therefore, a discreet approach is required. The prosecutor’s office could also be restructured to concentrate on the investigations and prosecution by keeping the Ministry of Justice away from the influence of the prosecutor’s office.


Regarding the establishment of the Crime Investigation Bureau for High-ranked Officials, many bills have already been submitted. In addition, a government bill is already released. In other words, even though the establishment is already confirmed, this study investigated diverse methods regarding the efficient operation of the government bureau.


When it comes to the court of justice, the Court Administration Office needs to build an environment in which a judge focuses on trials only through the organizational restructuring and decentralization of the chief justice’s authority. In addition, the diversification of the chief justice should be ensured to make the Supreme Court reflect the people’s diverse needs and demands. This study reviewed these matters. With the unification of the legal profession, the judge recruitment system has changed. It appeared to be desirable to recruit a qualified person with extensive experience as a judge. To prevent any side effects, however, a more specific system should be designed.


In correctional organizations and protective service agencies, this study examined the necessity of a correctional and prevention agency. Both the facility and social treatments should be performed together to rehabilitate criminals in a modern society. For successful rehabilitation, there should be a close connection between the correctional and protective services agencies. This study reviewed a plan for such linkage. Since corrections and protection are in the category of the execution of policies, they should not be controlled by a department in the Ministry of Justice. Instead, this study reviewed a way to carry them out in a more efficient manner.


In addition, this study examined the people’s view on criminal justice agencies and analyzed what made them have such a perception. For this, reliability survey items on criminal justice agencies were reviewed through the analysis of previous studies. Among them, necessary items were re-investigated to analyze any changes.


According to a survey on people’s awareness of the criminal justice agencies concerning the overall reliability and integrity, ‘court of justice’ was the most positive while ‘prosecutor’s office’ was rather negative. Such results appear to be relevant with the current investigation on the prosecutor’s office under the name of ‘Reform of Prosecutor’s Office.’ According to an analysis of the agency reliability by crime experience, the reliability was low among those who experienced crime. When it came to the prosecutor’s office, in particular, the agency reliability revealed a significant difference between crime victims and non-crime victims. The former had to meet the criminal justice agency to form their attitude towards the criminal justice agencies. According to an analysis of the agency reliability by the fear of crime, those with a low level of fear revealed the highest reliability. When the differences in the agency reliability by the respondents’ thought of the increase or decrease in crime rates were analyzed, there was a difference in the specific results by the agency. The reliability of the criminal justice agencies was low among those who believed that crime rates increased but high among those who insisted that they have dropped. According to the analysis of agency reliability by the severity of the disorder in environments, the reliability was low when the level of disorder was high. Regarding the agency reliability by the people’s awareness of social corruption, the reliability was low among those who believed that corruption was severe.


The technical aspects of the criminal justice system are viewed as an object, not a subject, to the general public. This aspect has an adverse effect on the formation of positive images in the criminal justice system. Therefore, it is necessary to accelerate the coexistence and collaboration between the criminal justice system and society by allowing the active participation of a private sector in the system. Such participation can also be emphasized concerning the organizational effectiveness by reducing a feeling of distance and enabling the utilization of expertise from a private sector. In the governance structure as well as job implementation, it is needed to promote the privatization of the criminal justice system by expanding the private sector’s participating committees and supervisory organizations.


Keyword Korean Criminal Justice System