A Journey of Family Law Reform in Korea: Tradition, Equality, and Social Change

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Yang, Hyunah
Issue Date
BK 21 law
Journal of Korean Law Vol.8 No.1, pp. 77-94
family lawrevision of family lawtraditioncolonialismpostcolonialismlegal feminism
This article reviews fifty years of history of family law reform in Korea with particular emphasis on the most recent and a large-scale revision in March 2005. For this purpose, this article overviews three previous revisions in 1962, 1977, and 1989 from a feminist point of view. History of family law has been tantamount to the history of feminist legal movements, and the feminist legal movements for family law mark the longest history in the legal feminism in Korea. The essay then discusses the revision in 2005, its main bodies, political and social situation. As seen, diverse social sectors of citizens’ movements were mobilized and public sectors such as legislature, administration, and Constitutional Court made this huge change in law, particularly deletion of the family-head system possible. It also discusses the social environment such as rapid changes in birth rate, numbers of family members, rates of divorce and remarriage in South Korea that shaped social context of the legal change.
Based upon this analysis, the essay discusses several points about law and society seen through the family law and revision movement. It discusses largely three issues: ‘tradition’ and colonialism embedded in the law; state’s concern on the ‘normalization’ of the family, nature of feminism(s) emerging in the process of revision of the law. Overall, the process of family law revision reveals the uniqueness of feminism and feminist jurisprudence in Korea, and its possibility to be a viewpoint to understand law’s history as well as history through the law.
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College of Law/Law School (법과대학/대학원)The Law Research Institute (법학연구소) Journal of Korean LawJournal of Korean Law Volume 08 Number 1/2 (2008)
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