Here’s information you may find helpful if you are facing a legal situation in Korea. If you have any other concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to reach us at 02-397-4114, American Citizens Services.
Legal System in Korea: The U.S. Embassy does not have the authority to legally represent U. S. citizens or to get them out of their legal difficulties. Consular officers cannot interfere in Korean judicial affairs, provide legal advice, seek preferential treatment, or assume any responsibility as guarantor, surety, or supervisor. For legal matters, please consult with a lawyer.
We can, however, assist you by providing basic information about the local legal system. In Korea, when police investigate a case, they do so under the supervision of the Prosecutor’s Office. During an investigation, both the police and the Prosecutor’s Office may ask suspects and witnesses to come voluntarily to their offices for interrogation. In Korea, there is no grand jury procedure, and there is no preliminary hearing by a judge. Only the Prosecutor’s Office can decide whether to prosecute a case. The duration of the criminal proceedings will also depend on how the prosecutor resolves the case: non-prosecution, summary judgment, or full trial.
If you find that you are unable to communicate with Korean authorities, please request a translator. Although they may not be able to provide you with one immediately, especially if the time of investigation is during the late hours of the night, they can delay the investigation until they can make arrangements.
Lawyer’s List: To assist U. S. citizens desiring to retain Korean counsel, the Embassy has prepared a list of Korean lawyers, which can be found at https://kr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorneys. Please note that inclusion on the list does not constitute an endorsement by the Embassy.
Reporting to the Police for Investigation: For incidents in Seoul, please contact Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA) Tel: General Inquiries 02-700-2575 Foreign Affairs Division: 02-739-6848. For incidents outside Seoul to please contact Korea National Police Agency (KNPA) and the Police Call Center +182. Website: http://www.police.go.kr
Korean Immigration: The U.S. Embassy is not able to look into your immigration status in Korea, so you must go to Korean Immigration or call them yourself. Please call the Korean Immigration Hotline at +1345 or visit the nearest Immigration Office in Seoul with a valid ID (alien registration card if applicable). There are four offices located in Seoul. Please go to http://www.immigration.go.kr/HP/IMM80/index.do for directions.
a) Gwanghwamun Branch at Seoul Global Center (Jongak Station)
b) Jongro Sejongno Office (Anguk Station)
c) Mokdong (Omokgyo Station)
d) The City Air Terminal (Samsung Station)
Translation Service: The Korea BBB Association offers free translation service. Tel.: 1588-5644, press 1 for English.
Korean Law: the Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea: The Korean government has released an English translation of the Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea. For the text, please see the Ministry of Government Legislation’s website at: http://www.moleg.go.kr/lawinfo/engLawInfo?pstSeq=47161&searchCondition=UsrDef2&searchKeyword=foreign.
Seoul Global Center for Foreigners (Help Center): Individuals can contact the Seoul Global Center for Foreigners which is operated by the City of Seoul. Information about this help center can be found at http://global.seoul.go.kr/ or www.hikorea.go.kr Tel: 02-1688-0120.