Monday, April 04, 2011

What is All This About "Blood Money"?

Dear Korean,

I heard that in Korea, victims of crime are bribed with "blood money" instead of having their cases heard by the court. How can Korea let this injustice to continue? Why is Korea such a backward country with no sense of justice?


For this question, the Korean is stealing the feature from Ask a Filipino! by setting up a question from "MuQ", i.e. "Made-up Questioner." (It's pronounced like "muck," rhymes with "luck.") The reason why the Korean does is twofold: one, because people who like to talk about "blood money" in Korea are so ignorant that they won't even ask a question about this, and; two, because the Korean is fucking sick and tired of this stupid misinformation, and wants to set the record straight once and for all.

Let us start with a hypothetical. Suppose person A punched person B and caused injury. The police comes and arrests A. What happens next is pretty significantly different depending on whether you are in the U.S. or in Korea.

In the U.S., there are two separate avenues through which A is punished -- A can be charged by the district attorney (a prosecutor), go through the criminal justice process in the court, and either go to jail or pay a fine to the government. Separately, B can sue A in the civil court for battery, and get compensation from A. Importantly, what B decides to do in the civil court, theoretically, does not affect what the district attorney does to A in the criminal court.

In Korea, the two processes interact closely. Almost immediately after arrest and police investigation, the police asks B if he wants to settle the case. If B accepts the settlement and gets paid settlement money, the prosecutor (for the most part) does not pursue criminal charges against A. This settlement money is what is often decried as "blood money," particularly among expats in Korea.

More after the jump.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at

Let's get a little more technical. In the world, two of the largest "families" of law are Common Law and Civil Law. Common Law is the legal system used in most English-speaking countries and former English colonies, including England, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India etc. Civil Law is the legal system used in pretty much everywhere else, including the continental Europe, Central and South America, majority of Africa and Asia, etc.

Legal systems of the world. Red is Common Law, and blue is Civil Law.

There are many differences between Common Law and Civil Law. The relevant difference here is the separation between tort and criminal law. "Tort" is a Common Law term denoting a violation of one person's rights by another. For example, trespassing is a tort because the trespassing person violated the rights of the landowner to keep her land in peace. Unsurprisingly, most crimes are also torts because most crimes involve someone violating the rights of someone else. For example, battery is a crime and a tort at the same time.

Under Common Law -- as explained above -- there is a separation between tort and criminal law. The ability to prosecute a criminal case totally belongs to the government. (If you watched a lot of Law and Order, this is what is often referred to as "absolute prosecutorial discretion.") Let's go back to the above example. Suppose, for some reason (say, because A paid B a lot of money,) B does not want A to go to jail. But B's intention never matters in the Common Law criminal justice system; the prosecutor can still choose to prosecute A and put A in jail if she wants to.

A good example that shows this separation is the O.J. Simpson case. As famously known, O.J. Simpson was found innocent by the court of law under the criminal charges of murdering his wife. But at the same time, Simpson was held liable for the tort claim of wrongful death brought by the surviving families of his wife, and was ordered to pay $33.5 million in compensation.

Here is the point where Civil Law, and specifically Korean law, differs from Common Law. Under Civil Law, there is no separate category called "tort law." Instead, broadly speaking, torts against properties fall under the civil law (notice the lower cases,) and torts against persons fall under the criminal law. And instead of having a totally separate process of compensating for tort against persons, the criminal justice system also takes charge of compensating the victim for the tort.

Now, here is an issue -- if the prosecutor in the Civil Law criminal justice system had absolute prosecutorial discretion like her counterpart in the Common Law criminal justice system, the victim of the crime/tort would have no say in handling the event that affected him first and foremost. That seems unjust. So Civil Law's solution is to designate certain crimes as "private crimes" -- crimes which require the consent of the victim in one form or another before the prosecutor can proceed with the criminal charges.

In Korean law, there are two forms of private crimes -- direct-action crimes [친고죄] and no-prosecution-contrary-to-intent crimes [반의사불벌죄]. (The translations are the Korean's own and not official.) The difference between the two is that the direct-action crimes require the victim to actively ask the prosecutor to pursue the charges. These include rape, defamation, libel/slander, etc. In contrast, the prosecutor may pursue no-prosecution-contrary-to-intent crimes on her own, as long as the victim does not express the wish to stop the prosecution. Such crimes include battery, extortion, negligent driving, writing false check, etc. The difference is legally meaningful, but in practice, they operate in a pretty similar manner. (Note: except for rape, the most serious crimes (e.g. homicide) are not categorized as private crimes.)

So let us go back to the A and B example one more time, and suppose they are in Korea. A committed a battery against B by punching B and causing injury. B now has a huge leverage over A. Suppose all B wants to do is to get the money for medical care and move on with his life, because B's injuries are not too serious. Then B can offer that possibility to A: "pay me, and you don't go to jail because I will tell the police/prosecutor not to prosecute." And indeed, that is what ends up happening for most private crimes in Korea -- A compensates B for the injuries he caused, and the criminal case against A stops. This makes sense because most crimes are petty, and the victim is usually content to get paid and move on.

Important thing to note is that there is absolutely no obligation for B to enter into a settlement. If B wants to make sure that A goes to jail AND pays B for the injuries, B can continue to have the police and the prosecutor press criminal charges. But there may be practical considerations as to why B might prefer a settlement over continuing to press charges. With the settlement, the payment of the money is certain and prompt. Once the case goes through prosecution and trial, B must utterly rely on the prosecutor to win the case for him. The criminal justice process also takes time, and there is always some level of uncertainty as to whether A will actually be convicted, or how much fine the judge would assess on A. The police in Korea is also known to strongly encourage settlement on what it deems to be a minor case, as a means to reduce the workload.

But these kinds of practical consideration are hardly unseemly; in fact, they are nearly universal in all criminal justice systems in the world. For example, in the U.S. (unlike in Korea,) the prosecutor is allowed to bargain prison sentences with a criminal defendant in exchange for a voluntary admission of guilt. (This is known as plea bargaining.) In this kind of situation, the defendant is also totally free to reject the plea offer, but also faces the same kind of practical considerations that steer her toward accepting the plea bargain. Even if the defendant might think she is completely innocent, she might agree to a bargained sentence of 6 years in prison if the prosecutor threatens with a charge that comes with 18 years in prison. The prosecutor also has reasons to favor plea bargaining, as it ends the case quickly and reduces workload. Consequently, overwhelming majority (90 percent) of criminal cases in America ends in a plea deal.

The Korean can see how someone who only knows the Common Law system might consider the Civil Law criminal settlement to be "blood money," "bribe" or "extortion." If the criminal process is totally separate from the civil process, it seems illegitimate for a civil defendant to affect the criminal process against him. But under Civil Law (notice the upper cases,) this is not only completely legitimate, but also has significant advantages over the Common Law system. The biggest advantage is that under this system, the victims of a crime get compensated very, very quickly without spending any money on lawyers or burdening the justice system.

Here is a real life example. In the winter of 2009, the Korean was victimized by a criminal. He was driving home from work late at night, and this drunk person came up to the Korean's car, stopped at the red light, and began randomly kicking the car. The Korean called the police, and the criminal was arrested. The Korean followed him to the police station to give a witness statement. The Korean's car suffered several dents on the door.

Now, if this were in Korea, this is what would have happened. Damaging a property through disorderly conduct is a private crime. The Korean can choose to stop the criminal charges against the car-kicker in exchange for getting paid enough to fix the car. The Korean really does not care if the car-kicker goes to jail or not. In fact, if the Korean had to choose, he would prefer having the car-kicker pay the cost of fixing the car over having him go to jail. So the Korean would have expressed that to the police officer. The police officer would then hold the case until the Korean confirms the payment by the car-kicker, who would be given usually a few weeks to come up with the money. A few weeks later, the Korean is paid, the car-kicker gets his just desserts for being drunk and stupid, and the police drops the case. It never reaches the prosecutor or the court, and the Korean never spends any money out of pocket.

Theoretically, this is how it plays out in the U.S. The Korean has zero power over the criminal process -- he is merely a witness to a crime. The prosecutor (Manhattan D.A. in this case) has all the power to pursue the criminal charges. If the Korean wants to get paid from the car-kicker, he needs to retain a lawyer and file a civil action against the car-kicker, for the tort of trespass against property. It will be at least several months, and likely more than a year, along with several court appearances, before the Korean gets his money. After paying his lawyer (who would charge at least $100 an hour or work at a contingency fee basis to take a chunk of the Korean's recovery,) the Korean would be lucky to get the money for half of the cost to fix his car, which carried the ugly dents the whole time. (Forget for a moment that the Korean is himself a lawyer and would probably represent himself.)

The following is what actually ended up happening, which is hugely illuminating. In order to avoid the scenario outlined above, most American D.A.'s offices coordinate with the victim and drop the charges or significantly lower the sentence as long as the proper restitution is paid to the victim -- just like Korea. The case went to the Manhattan D.A.'s office, who told the Korean that the car-kicker agreed to pay the restitution and the D.A. would give him a lower sentence. It still took several months before the case progresses through the D.A.'s office and the court. Under the plea agreement with the D.A.'s office, the car-kicker received the sentence of community service and restitution to the Korean. The car-kicker paid restitution to the New York City bureaucracy, which promptly lost the paperwork. After dozens of haranguing phone calls to the appropriate department in the NYC and the Manhattan D.A.'s office, the Korean was told LAST WEEK -- a little less than a year and a half after the crime -- that the restitution check is on the way. (And the Korean should consider himself lucky, because he used to work for a different D.A.'s office and knows how the process works. Who knows what happened if the Korean was just a regular person?)

Moral of the story? Common Law system actually tries to mimic the advantages of what is denounced as "blood money," and it is not even very good at doing that because inherently, a criminal case in the Common Law system must be shepherded by the prosecutor and the government. In contrast, the "private crimes" system in the Civil Law is fast, gives a definite resolution, and only minimally involves the government.

But like any system, this is not without flaws. Probably the biggest flaw is that often, a victim of a crime cannot properly assess the extent of her loss through the crime. If a person is beat up, the person might suffer a lingering damage that does not flare up until the settlement amount was computed. Also, sometimes it is not the victim herself who enters into the settlement. This used to lead to an incredibly outrageous situation in case of child molestation. As noted above, rape is a private crime. (-EDIT- As of June 2013, rape is no longer a private crime.) Since a child does not have the legal decision-making authority, the parents would handle the private crime process. And often, a molested child would come from a broken home, in which the parent would rather take a lump sum of cash right away rather than ensuring that the child rapist would go to jail. (Fortunately, this situation was redressed in 2008 by a new law that made child molestation a public crime.) Also, the inclusion of rape as a private crime is roundly criticized by many legal scholars, as it puts a burden on the victim to pursue what is a very serious crime that significantly threatens the social order. (To be sure, rape with battery, i.e. a violent case of rape, is a public crime. But, for example, a date rape involving drugs is a private crime.)

So here is the short summary of what is mistakenly known as "blood money": it is a type of settlement payment that stops the progress of a criminal charge, a common device in the Civil Law systems whose advantages the Common Law systems attempt to replicate, albeit poorly. If that is all you wanted to know, you can stop reading now.

But that is not the Korean's final word about this "blood money" shit. The whole reason why the Korean wrote this post in the first place is because he is so FUCKING SICK AND TIRED OF IGNORANT, COMPLAINING EXPATS IN KOREA. That's right, the Korean said it. That is not to say that all expats are ignorant, nor is it to say all expat complaints are illegitimate kvetching. A significant percentage of the questions directed to the Korean are from expats in Korea, and the Korean finds the overwhelming majority of them to be polite, respectful and genuinely curious about Korea. But there is no denying that a significant proportion of (current and former) expats spend their lodging ignorant complaints about Korea, enough for the Korean and Roboseyo to have a joint two-part series that are still one of the most read posts on AAK!

For THAT kind of expats, this so-called "blood money" is a favorite garbage to spew over K-blogosphere. A few choice samples:
I honestly have a real problem with money as a form of compensation in almost all situations. Especially the Korean idea of "blood money". It's shallow and has no place in a supposed "first world country" who's aspiration is to become a legitimate democracy.
[Concerning Korean teenagers charged with rape in Canada] Thos [sic] Korean guys are going to wish they’d stayed in Korea. If convicted, their lives are over! Here in Korea, they could pay “blood money” and take care of most of their headaches. No such luck in Canada.
[Concerning a judge who gave a jail sentence because criminal settlement was not reached] The logic of the trial judge seems to be a fine example of K-Logic. [Linked to here, a blog post mocking Korea for its apparent inability to hold a logical thought.]

And this so-called "blood money" issue is so great because it clearly shows everything obnoxious about THAT kind of expats. Really, just take a step back and look at how ignorantly myopic this is. People who call a criminal settlement "blood money" have no idea about the difference between the Common Law and the Civil Law. Nor do they have any idea that the most number of people and nations of the world (by a large margin) subscribe to Civil Law, not Common Law. Nor do they have any idea that the concept of "private crimes" dates back to the Napoleonic Code and its origins are evident in the laws of the Ancient Rome, not in the traditions of Korea. Nor do they have any idea that the administrative advantages of what they derisively call "blood money" is so great that even Common Law systems like the U.S. attempts to copy the concept in practice. Nor do they have any idea that the plea bargaining in American criminal justice system operates in exactly the same way (i.e. bargaining criminal sentences, often in consultation with the victim in practice,) and in some cases creates much more odious injustice.

None of this matters for THAT kind of expats. For THAT kind of expats, the only justice in the world is their style of justice. (Never mind that Common Law style of criminal justice seeks to emulate the advantages of Civil Law criminal justice!) Anything that does not fit with what they know is considered a "bribe," "extortion," "blood money," and Korea is an illogical, backward country for having the kind of system that the majority of the world has.

The worst part is, THAT kind of expats have no idea that they have no idea. This is really the worst part. It is ok to not know something; no one knows everything. But it is not ok to think you know something, when in fact you actually don't know anything. It is most definitely not ok to denounce that something, and go onto tarnish the entire country and people based on that something, when you don't know anything about that something. This "blood money" meme has been circulating around K-blogosphere as long as the Korean could remember. So far in more than four years, the Korean received literally thousands of questions. The number of questions about "blood money"? Zero.

Is it possible to constructively criticize the private crime system in Korea? Of course. The Korean himself is an America-trained attorney, and he is not entirely happy with Korea's formulation of private crimes. Specifically, he thinks more serious crimes should be excluded from private crimes, and the system of criminal settlement should be more consistent and transparent. He makes this criticism to every Korean attorney he knows. But has the Korean ever seen this type of discussion about Korea's criminal justice system in K-blogosphere? Not a chance.

So here is the Korean's final word on this whole thing. If something in a different culture does not make sense to you, it is highly likely that you do not know the full context. Please have this faith in your heart -- people from Korea (or any other country for that matter) are reasonable people who do things for a good reason and not out of stupidity, backwardness or being illogical. If you knew the whole story, you would understand that good reason. And if you don't know the whole story, the only purpose for which to open your mouth should be to ask questions. Really, it is not like you don't know who to ask. Either ask questions, or shut up and learn. Don't be THAT kind of person.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. That was very informative on multiple levels. I'm glad you did a MuQ to deal with the issue.

  2. I hadn't thought about the plea bargaining of the US, good point.

    Maybe I shouldn't have used "bribe" in my original comment, but poor word choice seems to be something you know about as well.

    I still hold onto my original post stating that Korea's low crime rate is false since many crimes aren't followed through due to victim compensation payments (does that phrase work for you?).

  3. Scott,

    No worries, the Korean is not the person to go crazy over a less-than-ideal word choice. This is a blog, after all.

    But the proposition that Korea's crime rate is artificially low because of the criminal settlement is still false. The crime rate is not measured by the number of crimes resolved in court, but by the number of reported crimes. And Korea's National Policy Agency dutifully keeps track of all crimes reported to it, and has the data available for the public. (You can see the chart here.) The criminal settlement has nothing to do with how many crimes are reported to the police.

  4. I learned something today. Appreciate it.

  5. This post greatly reminds me of the Raymond Davis double murder case in Pakistan where the US got one of its citizens out of a double murder charge through a fine loophole in Islamic law. The US was accused of paying blood money to the families of the dead. Not sure how this applies to the post. I suppose it shows that in certain situations, the US isn't above paying a little blood money here and there.

  6. Very interesting. Thanks for that. I followed some links a while ago about an expat teacher who was raped, and there was a lot of discussion about "blood money" in the various forums. And, yeah, there was quite a few comments about how Korea is a "backwards" country and how disgusting this practice was. I wasn't too sure what to make of it, and my research didn't provide too much insight, but this answers a lot of my questions.

    I had a friend of mine who filed a restraining order (here in So Cal) against a coworker who mistook her friendliness for something a little more. She was given the option of mitigation with a court appointed mitigator which she decided to exercise. I wonder where mitigation fits into all of this.

  7. I hear you, Korean. When you're living in another country and you can't speak the primary language well, it's easy to start thinking of the people who do speak the language as this illogical "other." It's good advice to think twice before speaking about another culture that one isn't familiar with, because it'll always turn out that this "other" is more similar than different.

  8. @Scott. You are thinking of the UK. The police simply don't bother to record or report crimes hence the crime rate is artificially lowered. TK's car kicking example, in the UK the cops won't even attend. They'd say its a civil matter and put the phone down.

    In fact if you are victim of a crime more than 4 times (like I was in 1996) crimes 5-infinity are not considered in the statistics.

    The UK has more violent crime than the USA btw. But the figures are fiddled. Murder via various quirks in the law = 4 years in prison. Sentence is 16, confess = 50% sentence reduction. Good behaviour inside = parole in 4.

  9. I've always liked the Korean system for the exact same reason the Korean outlined - that the victim gets compensation and pretty quickly at that. That's fair and more ... humanistic. It's not much good to a victim of assault or theft if the perpetrator goes to prison but they receive nothing.

    On the other hand, the Korean system is still open to various types of abuse. For example, the police officer in charge of the case may get a cut and this may prejudice him/her in favour of one or other of the parties. 'Victims' may work the system by exaggerating their injuries perhaps conniving with a doctor do so. Of course, this is not to say that abuses of the system and corruption don't go on under the Commonwealth law system too.

    I'm not sure why expats refer to the compensation as 'blood money'. Blood money was the money a killer paid to the dead person's family back in Anglo-Saxon tribal days.

  10. This was a very interesting article - thanks for bringing your background and professional training to bear in the explanation.

    I've watched a lot of Korean movies where two parties take a trip to the police office and they immediately start hammering out an agreement. It always confused me - to be honest, at first I thought it was corruption until I saw it in several more movies.

    My question is this: Let's say that A (the perpetrator of the crime) is much higher on the social status scale than B. To what extent does this system expose the victim to pressure to accept a lower settlement (or even not to pursue one) in society structured like Korea? Is that often an issue? Or is it the reverse, that someone lower on the food chain finally has an advantage over someone higher than them, and person A might pay more money because they have more face to lose. This is surely an oversimplification of Korean society, but it's the first thing that I thought of when I read your post.

    Again, thanks for sharing. Very interesting info.


  11. JacL,

    "Mitigation" (in quotes because it is a different concept in contracts law) is another way in which American jurisdictions attempt to emulate the private crimes system as well.

    Matt and Michael,

    Both valid concerns. The good news is that because of national health insurance, Koreans have a standardized chart to get a consistent cost for treating certain injuries. (Unlike in the U.S., for example, where two people with similar injuries caused by medical malpractice may receive a hugely different amount in compensation depending how well their lawyers do.) But the compensation for other things can be all over the place. Again, this is a particular problem with rape because often, rape is not accompanied by a particular physical injury. The Korean really thinks that rape as a whole, no matter what the kind, should be a public crime and be done with that. A standardized settlement guideline for all crimes and circumstances (similar to the sentencing guideline) would be also helpful.

  12. Another thing about this phenomenon is that the expats who become dedicated to their all-encompassing theories of the backwardsness of Korea typically hold up Japan as an example of a great, civilized nation. Which shows their ignorance of both nations because, for example, Japan has a very similar victim compensation system.

  13. Yup. Actually, Korea's system comes straight from Japan, which adopted it from Germany.

    God, seriously. I cannot fucking stand those people.

  14. Thank you for writing such an informative article. I don't believe any system is perfect--everything has its pros and cons. However, rather than seeming backwards or corrupt, having the perpetrator make restitution directly to the victim seems very logical and just.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. corruption exist in both systems. i don't know what is not to like about a system where the decision is quick and the victim gets compensation directly. less burden on the taxpayer and court. its seems to me that american system at some level is more backwards.

  17. Thanks for posting! I learned a lot. I've been meaning to ask you about Korea's legal system but never quite had a specific question in mind (certainly not one about "blood money"; never heard of it before this post). I'm currently a 1L and am really interested in international and comparative law.
    Could you recommend some sources about Korean law?

  18. Wow, what a great post. I had never heard of blood money in Korea and I sadly don't know much about my own legal system either. This explains so much.

  19. Wonderful post. Thank you. I have one quick question, though. If A and B settle (A pays B for damages), does A end up with the crime on his/her criminal record? Or, does it have to go through the court system in order for A to end up with a record?

    Take rape, for example, as you bring it up throughout your post. If A rapes B and B chooses to settle by accepting a cash payment and not pursue the matter criminally, does A end up with a rape charge on his criminal record?

    It seems that in the States, basically every criminal charge and conviction end up on a criminal record. I wonder if it's the same in Korea?

    Many thanks in advance.

  20. So, I was on the receiving end of this a few weeks ago (I'm an expat out here). It was a totally fair amount, with prompt payment and virtually no paperwork. Back home, I would have received...a chance to impotently shake my fist at the courthouse for awhile.

    But as much as I loved that arrangement, it did feel a little like hush money at first--thanks for making sense of it all.

  21. Thank you that was really informative and detailed. I always wondered about this but no one has been able to explain it to me like this. THANK YOU!!!

  22. busanmum,

    Depending on what you mean by "criminal record." To be an "ex-con" (전과자), one has to go through the court system and actually get sentenced. But if one is arrested at all, the record of the arrest remains.

  23. Seriously informative post, thank you! I have a question though - I'm not sure how related it is to the criminal justice system - but have you see the movie poetry? In which the families come up with compensation for a wrongdoing - I really donn't know how to categorise these in its proper terms. But how do you see such preemptive compensation for the victim (there clearly was one).

  24. Thank you for this incredibly informative entry. I'd never heard of "blood money" and am very thankful that you wrote some facts about it before I go to Korea and learn about it from the misinformed.

    Your blog continues to educate. Thank you!

  25. One of the main objections that most American's have to "blood money" (apparently this is called "hapuigeum" in Korean?) is that it effectively lets the rich buy their way out of substantive punishment for their wrongdoings. Also, it appears that many foreigners have a different conception of legal liability than the Korean justice system, this post hear shows a fairly common view of the matter:

    My naive view of the issue is that the Korean legal system has more of an emphasis on maintaining social harmony and making the injured whole, while the US system is more concerned with accurately determining fault and assessing punishment based on such.

  26. andreac,

    Sorry, did not watch Poetry yet so can't really tell you.


    "Hapuigeum" means "settlement payment" in Korean -- which is exactly what the payment is. And thanks for the link -- it really shows all the ignorance in full display. (And trust me on this -- the rich gets off these things just as easily in Common Law jurisdictions.)

    Here is the thing about the criminal settlement system: it is not at all a "Korean" system. It is the Civil Law system. The exact same system is used in France, Germany, Japan, Brazil -- any of the countries marked blue in the map in the post. In fact, if aliens landed on Earth tomorrow and studied the whole Earth's legal system, they would think the Civil Law system is the norm, and Common Law the exception. The fact that Korea has this system has nothing to do with whatever perceived characteristics that Korea has (e.g. maintaining social harmony, etc.)

  27. Perhaps the Korean or someone else can help with this... does anyone know of a book (in English) explaining the differences between Korean law and American law or just giving a general overview of Korean law? I have read about the differences in how traffic accidents are handled and the differences in libel laws here in Korea, etc. but have never been able to find a book on the subject in general. Thanks.

  28. This has easily been the most interesting thing I have read in a long time. It really got me thinking about the pros and cons of each system. 1 thing I have figured out is that this certainly seems to be at least partially responsible for why the U.S. seems to have so much more violent crime than everywhere else. People are people and whether you are American or Korean we all get mad and make mistakes. I just depends whether your government counts each time someone goes to far with that anger .

  29. (1) Would you mind throwing up a couple cites to the Criminal Code for settlement and dismissal generally? (Korean language is fine.)


    (2) I think you are overlooking some of the mandatory victim restitution statutes in the US. Admittedly atypical, if we examine California we see that upon a plea of guilty (or nolo) to a crime, or possibly as a stipulation to a dismissal, a D must recompense the V. In San Diego, the prosecutor would handle the restitution suit. Free of charge. Effectively the V got a free lawyer to work through a quasi-civil suit (handled by the criminal courts), often with the extra leverage of "pay restitution or go to jail for violating probation" (checks did not take a year then).

    The theory here is that the social deterrence and normative benefits of criminal law are undercut if V has complete power over dismissal (i.e., we want to dispense stigma) but that the "impotent fist shaking" another commentator mentioned or "$100/hour" in the post are also not adequate ways of assuring victims' compensation.

    Anyway still a very informative post.

  30. In Common Law Bs intentions are highly relevant as the whole system is based upon the individual, agreed the US may do it different, but the US system is highly mixed with Civil law. Civil law is based on following the written law rather than by Case. Hence Frances Chinese Kanji -law country-. To see how far the US is from CommonLaw, one only need recognise the existance of Gauntanamo bay or the threestrike system, these are completely against the core notion of Habeaus Corpus, a kernal part of Common law.

  31. What I feel like "The Korean" lacks in understanding about the frustrations of foreigners and even Koreans regarding the issue of "blood money" in Korea and plea bargaining is his lack of experience with the ways these sort of situations occur in Korea. He may notice the parallel similarities in the general outcome but doesn't understand how the system might be skewed to favor a certain group.
    Like Russia, there are known to be groups of people who specifically cause fights and arguments and goad people into hitting them. Sometimes to the point where the person defending themselves feel justified in their actions.
    This is what happened to my friend who getting off from a cab felt slighted and asked the taxi driver if the taxi driver had said something offensive to him. The taxi driver jumped out from the cab and proceeded to curse off at the friend and posture. The friend fearing for his safety struck back when the taxi driver hit him. The taxi driver was injured, called the cops and the cops took the side of the taxi driver. Everyone saw that the taxi driver had hit the friend first and used profane language but it did not matter to the police. The friend had to pay up 2 million Korean Won.
    This is common in Korea and the exchange of money takes place on the very spot. As opposed to plea bargaining which is stretched out and doesn't guarantee money. The police themselves also pressure the defendnt before it even reaches the ears of the prosecture.

    I believe the Korean also wrote a post about how he would prefer recieving the money right away in contrast to plea barganings which do not guarantee a certain sum on the spot. This shows that he acknowledges the differences, which is what most foreigners are attempting to argue in the end.

    1. I'm not a lawyer, but I have some experience and to my understanding, in Korea, assault is a crime regardless of who took the first swing or who provoked it. Therefore, when two persons are involved in an assault case, each hitting each other, the two are both held responsible. Obviously, the Korean law also acknowledges self-defense, but there's a very strict line, and the court tends to not recognize it unless for very clear-cut cases. Now, since your friend and the taxi driver both are responsible to each other for assault, each hold the right to receive settlement money, what you called, blood money. However, since you only mention of the taxi driver being injured, I'm going to assume that your friend was unharmed, hence the reason why only your friend had to pay.
      If there was no injury, it's likely that the police would of asked you whether you really want to take this to the prosecutor and make it a full case, and more likely recommend for both parties to shake hands and go home.

      The Korean legal system as well as Korea it self, like every other country in the world, is not perfect.
      But Korea is also not a primitive place where the law is stuck back in the 18th century.

      Hope you have a good time in Korea.

  32. There is a big problem with the Korean criminal prosecution system but it is not "Blood Money". In, Korea, hospitals will give you a certificate of injury and keep you as an inpatient for weeks (usually up to 4) for even the smallest scuffle. The prosecutor will accept this as a the sole form of evidence that an assault took place even without eyewitnesses or CCTV. The prosecutor will then administer a fine. So, basically it is possible for someone to fall over beside you in the street in Korea and get you fined for it. Of course you can dispute the fine and bring it to a judge but the legal costs associated with that will always be more than the fine was. So, there are innocent people in Korea accepting fines everyday to avoid the legal costs of bringing it to a judge. The only good thing is that these kinds of fines do not appear on criminal records.


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