Transitional Justice in a Reunified Korea: Some Initial Observations

  • Cho Jung-hyun
Part of the Asan-Palgrave Macmillan Series book series (APMS)


Transitional justice is a range of approaches that states may use to address past human rights violations so that states and their people can move towards sustainable peace and reconciliation. Countries in transition, for example from autocratic rule to democracy or from armed conflict to peace, usually face a legacy of massive human rights abuses that cannot be fully dealt with by existing systems.1 Transitional justice has been discussed to examine the cases of political transformation, such as the collapse of Socialist regimes in the East European countries, the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the termination of armed conflicts in many parts of Africa. Also, transitional justice has been introduced to eliminate colonial rule and eradicate illegality after unification. As peaceful reunification remains a constitutional task, South Korea is assigned to scrutinize these international arguments and find creative ideas for the post-unification possibilities. In this connection, a case study on German unification could provide direct implications for the future of Korea. In the meantime, many kinds of methodologies and combined forms of transitional justice can and should be established according to regional characteristics and different circumstances of each country.2 The Korean Peninsula is not an exception, and its unique geopolitical environment has to be carefully considered.


Korean Peninsula Security Council Armed Conflict International Criminal Court Rome Statute 
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  1. 1.
    Marty Logan, “What Is Transitional Justice?” (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Nepal, 2007), 1, Scholar
  2. 13.
    For details, see Jung-hyun Cho et al., White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea (Seoul: Korea Institute for National Unification, 2013);Google Scholar
  3. UN Human Rights Council, Reportofthe Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, UN Doc. A/HRC/25/63, February 7, 2014; Report of the Detailed Findings of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, UN Doc. A/HRC/25/CRP.1, February 7, 2014.Google Scholar
  4. 20.
    Manfred Nowak, U.N. Convention on Civil and Political Rights: CCPR Commentary (2nd rev. ed.) (Kehl: N.P. Engel Publisher, 2005), 360, 367–368.Google Scholar

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© Baek Buhm-Suk and Ruti G. Teitel 2015

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  • Cho Jung-hyun

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