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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2016/17 Prof. Dr. Marie Seong-Hak Kim

Prof. Dr. Marie Seong-Hak Kim

St. Cloud State University
Legal History
External Senior Fellow (EURIAS Programme)
October 2016 - July 2017

Room 02 010
Phone +49 (0)761 203 97425
Fax +49 (0)761 203 97451


Marie is a professor of history at St. Cloud State University (U.S.A.) and an attorney at law.  She specializes in comparative legal history, with emphasis on Korea, Japan, and France.  She is the author of Law and Custom in Korea: Comparative Legal History (Cambridge University Press, 2012), and Michel de L’Hôpital: the Vision of a Reformist Chancellor during the French Religious Wars (Truman State University Press, 1997).  Most recently, she has edited The Spirit of Korean Law: Korean Legal History in Context (Brill Nijhoff, 2015).  She is currently writing two books, “French Law in the Making: Custom, Society, and the State, 1300-1600,” and “Judicial Process and Constitutional Transitions in South Korea.”  It is the latter project that she will be working on as a FRIAS fellow.  Marie was a fellow at the Collegium de Lyon (2011-12) and at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (2013-14).  As a native of Korea, she graduated from Ewha University in Seoul, and received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Minnesota and J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.  She is an affiliate researcher at the Institut d'Asie Orientale (France), and serves on the International Editorial Board of Comparative Legal History.  She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and they have two sons who study computer science and music in university.

Selected Publications

  • THE SPIRIT OF KOREAN LAW: KOREAN LEGAL HISTORY IN CONTEXT (Editor). Brill, the Netherlands, 2016, 279 pages.  ISBN 9789004290778.
  • LAW AND CUSTOM IN KOREA: COMPARATIVE LEGAL HISTORY (author). Cambridge University Press, 2012, 360 pages.  ISBN 9781107006973.
  • MICHEL DE L’HOPITAL: THE VISION OF A REFORMIST CHANCELLOR DURING THE FRENCH RELIGIOUS WARS (author). Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, Vol. XXXVI,  Kirksville: Truman State University Press, 1997, 216 pages.  ISBN 0-940474-38-7.
  • “Travails of Judges: Courts and Constitutional Authoritarianism in South Korea,” The American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 63, No. 3 (2015): 601-654.
  • “Confucianism that Confounds: Constitutional Jurisprudence on Filial Piety in Korea,” in Confucianism, Law and Democracy in Contemporary Korea, ed. Sungmoon Kim, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield (2015), pp. 57-80.

FRIAS Project

Judicial Process and Constitutional Transitions in South Korea

This project examines the role of the courts in political transition from authoritarian rule to democracy. It sets forth the judicial process and jurisprudence in constitutional authoritarianism in South Korea and other various jurisdictions, in which illiberal policies were sustained by constitutional legitimacy. Grounded on the theoretical frameworks of political theory, legal philosophy, and transnational constitutionalism, this work focuses on the dilemmas of judges torn between legality and substantive justice in concrete historical contexts. Most empirical data are derived from South Korea during the 1970s and 1980s, with comparative reference to the countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia that underwent democratization in the second half of the twentieth century. The case of South Korea is of particular interest because it is the only country in the world today still mired in the Cold War conflict and the question of how to balance individual rights and national security has a dimension of added poignancy and urgency in the Korean peninsula. Following democratization in 1987, the courts have come under much backlash. The tides of transitional justice have in turn led the judiciary to shift to judicial activism, largely in line with the global trend to resort to natural law and to recognize the courts’ claim the power to review constitutional amendments. The South Korean experience presents an important arena for studying the migration of constitutional theories and practices.