KU Legal Research Institute was first launched in December 1960 as KU affiliated Research Center for Administrative Issues. The Center was reorganized as Legal and Administrative Research Center in May 1970;, and in June 1982, it changed its name to Legal Research Center when the Department of Administration was separated from the College of Law. Then, on November 7, 1997, the status of the Center was promoted to KU affiliated Legal Research Institute through the amendment of regulation.
The KU Legal Research Institute occupies a special place in the history of Korean law.
First, KU Legal Research Institute is the first university affiliated institute for legal research in Korea. Although KU Legal Research Institute was established in December 1960, which is still the first establishment in Korea, the history of the Institute begins far earlier than its establishment. This is because there was already a “legal research group” established in KU College of Law with Yoo Jin-Oh as the president and all the professors of the College of Law as its members. This research group succeeded the tradition of Bosung College Specialized Department of Law- established at the end of the Joseon Dynasty based on the idea of saving the nation through education and was the first to pass down modern Western law to the people of Korea- and continued the legacy of Korean law throughout the chaos following the 6.25 Korean War. The establishment of the Institute stimulated departments of law in other universities to establish similar legal research institutes.
Second, the KU Legal Research institute has continued its research as a specialized research institute focusing on North Korean law. From the early days of its establishment, the Institute recognized the reality of the divided Korean peninsula, and tried to achieve reunification by planning and carrying out research on North Korean law and administration. As a result, the Institute was approved by the government on May 24, 1965 as the only legal research institute that can engage in publication related to North Korea or socialism. From July 1966, the Institute began its full-fledged research with the support from Asia Foundation. The Institute is considered as a pioneer in the field of North Korean legal studies, starting with the publication of the History of North Korean Laws consisting of collected and organized documents regarding North Korean laws with the Journal of North Korean Law and Administration, the institute has continued research on new laws regarding North Korean relations.
Third, the KU Legal Research Institute, established for the purpose of contributing to the development of legal culture and legal education in Korea, is playing a leading role in Korean legal research through primarily focusing on research, lectures, seminars and publication of research books. The institute is actively exchanging human and material resources with prominent overseas colleges of law and legal research centers and inviting world-class legal scholars to investigate legal issues in the global society. Also, journals published yearly by the Institute have been influencing the Korean academia and practice greatly with their originality of topics and depth of research. Moreover, famous overseas legal research institutes are now recognizing the value of our journals, and requesting for the donation of copies of the journals.
Currently, the KU Legal Research Institute is comprised of a director, general assembly, executive committee, board of directors, and advisory committee, as well as a secretary and publisher. Regarding each field of law, there are 23 specialized research centers which are as follows: Basic Law Research Center; Public Law Research Center; Civil Law Research Center; Criminal Law Research Center; Commercial Law Research Center; International Law Research Center; Labor and Social Security Law Research Center; North Korean Law Research Center; Trade Law Research Center; Comparative Law Research Center; Intellectual Property Right Law Research Center; Finance Law Research Center; Environment Law Research Center; Civil Procedure Law Research Center; Negotiation Research Center; Innovation, Competition, and Regulation Law Research Center; Tax Law Research Center; Unified Territory Research Center; IT Law Research Center; and Health Care Policy Research Center. The KU Legal Research Institute also issues a periodic publication twice a year called the “Korea Law” published since April 2001 after combining two journals previously published by the Institute, namely the “Collection of Legal Studies” and the “Research on Precedents.” The Korea Law Volume 36, presented with a new title and new cover page design, was intended to succeed the Collection of Legal Studies, its first volume published in March 1958 and Volume 36 in December 1999. The Korea Law, now issued regularly in April and October each year, has successfully combined two significant journals: the Collection of Legal Studies, which had reputation as a sophisticated and time-honored journal of legal scholarship; and the Research on Precedents with its 9 volumes published from 1982 to 1998 focusing on in-depth and systematic research of domestic and international precedents that hold academic significance and on promoting the organic link between academia and practice.
The KU Legal Research Institute will continue to participate in research activities, succeeding the tradition and reputation as the first university-affiliated legal research institute in Korea, and is expected to make great contributions to the development of legal culture and education in Korea.