The year began with a significant milestone in Korean criminal enforcement: as of January 1, 2021 several amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Prosecutors’ Office Act came into effect, most notably shifting a substantial amount of criminal investigation authority from the Prosecutors’ Office (PO) to the police. The year 2021 also marks the fifth anniversary of the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act, an anti-corruption law known for its strict monetary limits and sweeping definition of “public officials” subject to the Act. Proposed legislation in a similar vein is in the pipeline for 2021, with the National Assembly currently reviewing a legislative proposal aimed at addressing conflicts of interest pertaining to public officials.
In addition to the above developments, we also expect the coming year to see the effects of an expanded Whistleblower Protection Act, which as of November 2020 significantly increased the number of covered statutes (only reports relating to certain “covered statutes” are eligible for protection and rewards under the Act).
Finally, during a 2020 dominated by the global pandemic, the Korean courts and enforcement authorities have adopted various social distancing measures by expanding the use of electronic filing and remote means of appearance, such as through conference calls or video conferences. It remains to be seen whether these temporary measures will remain in the post-pandemic era.
For more detailed information on the above issues, please click on the links below.
Reforms in Criminal Procedure and Investigation Authority of the Police and the Prosecutors’ Office
Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Public Officials
Trends in Anti-Graft Act Enforcement; Proposal for “Act on the Prevention of Public Officials’ Conflicts of Interest”
Measures to Expand Scope and Application of Whistleblower Protection Act