The Judiciary of Korea consists of the Supreme Court, High Courts, District Courts, Patent Court, Family Court, Administrative and Local Courts. The courts exercise jurisdiction over civil, criminal, administrative, electoral, and other judicial matters, while also overseeing affairs related to real estate registrations, family registrations, financial holdings, and court officials.
The Supreme Court is the highest judicial tribunal. It hears appeals on cases rendered by lower courts. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly. Other justices are appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Chief Justice. The term of office for the Chief Justice is six years and is not renewable. The Chief Justice must retire from office at the age of 70. The term for other justices is six years. Though they may be re-appointed in accordance with legal provisions, they must retire from office when they reach the age of 65.
The High Courts hear civil, criminal and administrative appeals cases rendered by district, administrative and family courts and try special cases designated by law. The Patent Court reviews decisions rendered by the Patent Office. The Supreme Court is the final tribunal over patent disputes.
District Courts are located in Seoul and in the following 13 cities: Incheon, Uijeongbu, Suwon, Chuncheon, Daejeon, Cheongju, Daegu, Busan, Changwon, Ulsan, Gwangju, Jeonju and Jeju. The Family Court is empowered to hear all cases involving matrimonial, juvenile or other domestic matters. The Administrative Court handles administrative cases only.
District Courts outside of Seoul also perform the functions of the Administrative Court in their respective districts. In addition to these courts, there are military tribunals which exercise jurisdiction over offenses committed by members of the Armed Forces and their civilian employees.
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